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Major General Ethan Allen Hitchcock 
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Copyright, 1909 



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THE work which I have edited and herewith submit to the 
pubhc is the diary of an eminent American soldier — 
Major-General Ethan Allen Hitchcock, a grandson of 
the Revolutionary hero Ethan Allen of Ticonderoga. General 
Hitchcock died after having been in the army nearly half a 
century, and he left behind him a vast accumulation of note- 
books and other writings describing in minute detail all of 
our important wars since 1815. He kept a journal during 
his entire life, in which he made systematic records almost 
every day and often many times a day — a voluminous chronicle 
of passing events which has no parallel in the literary remains 
of any other distinguished American. Though he wrote with 
grace and fluency he disparaged the value of his manuscript 
and said, '*I keep this diary for my own use and convenience — 
to jog my memory." 

A graduate of West Point during its earliest days, he was 
first an instructor there and afterwards Commandant of the 
Corps of Cadets of that institution. 

He was engaged in the Florida wars and removed the last 
of the Seminoles ; in the Mexican War he was first with Gen- 
eral Taylor in the north and later General Scott's Inspector- 
General in the south, — ^at the right hand of that commander 
from Vera Cruz to the capital. 

After the conclusion of peace, while tarrying in New 
Orleans in 1848, General Hitchcock was vigorously besieged 
by the participants in the Mexican War, who united in en- 
treating him to write a history of that contest. They knew 
that he had disapproved of the motives of the administration 
which began it and yet had been actively present in the battles 
which effected the conquest of the invaded country — and 
therefore that he would be likely to be impartial. They knew 
that he had occupied a confidential position at the head- 

IV Preface 

quarters of both the American commanders and therefore 
had unparalleled opportunities. They knew that he kept a 
minute record of occurrences daily and almost hourly and 
therefore would be likely to be exact. General Hitchcock 
took these urgent requests into favorable consideration and, 
at last, began a history of the Mexican War, as follows : 

"Milton, Johannes, said he was ambitious of producing 
something which the world would not willingly let die. 

**The writer of the following sketch or sketches of the 
campaign of General Scott in Mexico does not emulate the am- 
bition of the author of Paradise Lost; he does not aim to pro- 
duce what the world will not let die willingly; he does not 
aim, properly speaking, to produce anything; but as something 
has been done by the American armies in Mexico of which he 
has personal knowledge, he feels called upon to publish what 
he knows. If what he publishes survives the present age, it 
will owe its preservation to the extraordinary character of the 
campaign and not to its own merits as a composition. The 
author is a soldier and not a writer. He states this simply as a 
fact, and not to guard against or deprecate criticism. Those 
who read for information will duly consider the disadvantages 
under which an unpractised writer must labor. 

** But the author confesses that he writes more for a succeed- 
ing age than for the present ; and he feels safe in thus indicating 
his purpose ; for if the work does not pass beyond the present 
time it will not live to accuse his memory of presumption. 
The writer is accustomed to look into past times signalized by 
important events, and to reflect upon the great value of con- 
temporary accounts of those events, particularly when they 
proceed from actors ; and he thinks an additional value attaches 
to such accounts when they come from actors who, while in a 
position to know the truth, were not in a position to write under 
a bias as seeking their own fame. The writer considers him- 
self in an especial manner as falling within this description of 
actors in the campaign of General Scott, and in order to make 
this appear he proposes at once to indicate that position and 
to show that, while he occuiped a place sufficiently elevated 
and confidential to know much of what transpired in the 
campaign, he was not in a position to claim any of its honors, 

Preface v 

while the circumstances will show that he was sufficiently 
independent and may claim to be impartial." 

Thus far the most vigilant and trustworthy observer of the 
Mexican campaigns had written when he came to a full stop. 
He intimates that it will be necessary to speak in the first 
person instead of the third, but, for reasons known only to 
himself, he never resumed the important narrative. He kept 
trunkfuls of his diaries, however, with the greatest care. 
These contain the most vivid and complete history of that 
conflict that has yet been written. 

In the War for the Union, declining on account of age and 
ill health the command of the army in the field and insisting 
that it be given to General Grant, he became the military 
adviser of Secretary Stanton and Mr. Lincoln, and directed 
many of the most important movements. During the war he 
kept a continuous diary, filled with graphic descriptions of 
detail and estimates of methods and of men, and preserved 
and bequeathed thousands of letters from distinguished cor- 
respondents. His account of the struggle is fragmentary and 
deficient in details, as it was observed mainly from the White 
House and War Department, but he had a comprehensive 
view of the field, saw all that could be seen from headquarters, 
and possessed the advantage of frequent conferences with the 
chief actors in the momentous crisis. 

Besides his voluminous contributions to military history. 
General Hitchcock wrote often and vigorously for publication 
on passing events and matters of professional importance, his 
style being so trenchant that he was known as * ' the Pen of the 
Army." He was also a student and writer on recondite 
philosophy, and in the intervals of an active career gave to 
the world eight volumes on abstruse and esoteric subjects. 

W. A. C. 







COUSINS ......... 6 

















viii Contents 









"virtually a king." to the upper MISSISSIPPI WITH 

PIPE .......... 69 




CIAL REPORT . . . . ^ . . . .86 






PLANT corn!" ........ 98 

Contents ix 





























SUPPLIES ......... 192 



Contents xi 










MUNITIONS ......... 249 



TREATY-MAKERS AT WORK . . . . . .254 

xii Contents 

Hitchcock's stirring appeal to Mexicans. dominguez 














Contents xiii 













SPECIAL SERVICE ........ 369 



xiv Contents 

















Contents xv 


OF PRISONERS ........ 437 










SON DAVIS . . . . . . . . .471 



* % 

Fifty Years in Camp and Field 



ETHAN ALLEN HITCHCOCK was bom at Vergennes, 
Vermont, on May i8, 1798. His father was a dis- 
tinguished lawyer. His mother was a daughter of the 
famous Ethan Allen. 

These were stirring times. War was imminent with our 
old ally, France, without whose generous and timely aid twenty 
years before, our independence would have been indefinitely 
postponed. Our envoys had been dismissed from Versailles 
with an insult ; this whole country was in the convulsions 
of a strong resentment ; a provisional army was again being 
equipped to defend our honor and national life, and George 
Washington, in luxurious retirement at Mount Vernon, had 
yielded to the affectionate persistence which summoned him 
once more to lead the armies in the field. 

Vermont, though still sore from the continuous buffetings 
received from New York, and still resentful on accotmt of the 
long persecutions of that aggressive neighbor, had just joined 
the Union notwithstanding, being the first to ally herself with 
the republic into which the thirteen victorious colonies had 
agglomerated ten years before, and becoming the yoimgest 
of the sisterhood of States. Vermont was thus the daughter 
of two revolutions, one against New York and the other against 
Great Britain, the last of which was begun before the first was 

2 Fifty Years in Camp and Field 

ended. And the ancestors of Ethan Allen Hitchcock were 
conspicuous actors in both. 

But the convulsions from which her civilization was bom 
are but a trivial reminder of the furious tumult and turbulence 
which accompanied her physical evolution. Geology reveals 
that the Laurentian ridge, a bequest of azoic time, sweeping 
across Canada and dipping into our eastern States, was the 
first portion of the solid earth that "in the beginning" was 
projected above the bosom of the molten deep. Before 
Switzerland was afloat, before the Rocky Mountains and 
Andes fixed their trend, before the Alps and Apennines were 
visible to the huge saurians of the early deep, before the 
Himalayas reared their volcanic peaks above the cypress 
reaches of Asia, this fundamental series of igneous and meta- 
morphic rocks had lifted into the air a platform for primeval 
life amid the strangling gases and the rain of metallic fire. 
It is considered probable that the basin of Lake Champlain 
was outlined in the Lower Silurian, when the Green Motmtains 
and the Adirondacks came slowly to the surface of the abound- 
ing ocean. During the Champlain period New England was 
an island, the salt sea flowing up the St. Lawrence and down 
the Hudson. Then there seemed to be an upward movement 
of the strata; the climate, which the ice age had rendered 
arctic, grew milder; the elephant and mastodon appeared, 
fulfilled their destiny, and disappeared; the whale wandered 
far inland and packed his bones in clay ; vegetation was luxuri- 
ant ; man came at last. 

The Iroquois family presented the finest specimen of the 
savage that this continent has produced. The confederacy 
of the Five Nations excited the unbotinded admiration of 
Daniel Webster for the courage, prudence, and statesmanship 
which it exhibited. Composed of the Mohawks, Oneidas, 
Onandagas, Cayugas, and Senecas, it was held together in 
close fraternity for a century and a half, in victory and defeat, 
and made its name a terror from the Atlantic to the Mississippi. 
The people of this confederation looked back with confiding 
reverence and gratitude to the watchful, sagacious, and omni- 
potent Hiawatha, who, by the agency of supernatural forces, 
had from the beginning of time conferred upon them wisdom 
and framed for them a government. 


The Vermont Wilderness 3 

How man)^ ages Vermont lay fallow, inhabited only by the 
wandering autochthon, is unknown, but it was more than a 
century after the discovery of the continent by Columbus, 
before modem civilization approached its confines or the eye 
of the inquisitive explorer discerned its attractions. The 
year 1609 may be said to be the first date in the history of 
Vermont; and it similarly marks the synchronous settlement 
of Virginia by John Smith's colony and the exploration of 
New York's beautiful and important river by Henry Hudson. 
During that year also Bradford, Brewster, and their neighbors 
and Puritan confreres, fugitives from England, began in Hol- 
land the organization of that unique party of zealots and 
adventurers who ultimately carried their outlawed heresies 
to Plymouth Rock. 

It was midsummer of this year 1609, on a day since made 
memorable, July 4th, that Samuel de Champlain gathered a 
few Frenchmen around him at Montreal, assembled a large 
and boisterous party of Hurons and Algonquins on the Sorel, 
and, afloat in sixty canoes, led them southward against the 
famous Iroquois encamped upon the inland sea. A destruc- 
tive battle resulted, in which the French explorer gave the 
natives their first introduction to firearms by shooting three 
chiefs himself, after which he pressed on with the lilies of 
France across the pellucid waters of the lake which was hence- 
forth to bear his name, and along its blooming and verdant 
shores. This enterprising conqueror was undoubtedly the 
first white man whose foot touched the low-lying and fertile 
land which is now the western border of Vermont. 

More than another century was to pass, however, before 
any settlement would be made there by anybody except the 
brown savages who gave their families a miserable and pre- 
carious support, and who raised a few beans and squashes 
and hunted and fished and fought around the "gateway of 
the Iroquois. " In 1724 half a dozen men came from Connecti- 
cut and Massachusetts and put up log cabins west of the 
Connecticut River and east of Lake Champlain and Lake St. 
Sacrament (now Lake George) , within the territory known as 
the "New Hampshire Grants.'* The region received this 
designation because it was understood to be a part of New 
Hampshire and because the governor of that colony granted 

4 Fifty Years in Camp and Field 

farms and townships over the royal seal to the bold frontiers- 
men who ventured thither. In the southeastern comer of 
what is now Vermont a small, rude blockhouse was early 
erected in the wilderness and the few newcomers clustered 
with their families for shelter under its protecting shadow. 
There was no more dangerous place in America for a white 
man or an Indian to live than between Lake Champlain and 
the Connecticut River during the first half of the eighteenth 
century. For almost a hundred years the desolating wars 
between France and England went on, having for their con- 
stant purpose the domination of New England and Canada. 
The circumstance that these wars were intermittent even 
increased their ferocity. From 1670 to the final surrender of 
Canada to England in 1763 war was declared and peace was 
proclaimed six different times, but the contest for mastery 
on this bloody frontier had degenerated into a feud of exter- 
mination and was not likely to have its severities much 
mitigated by a fitful exchange of hypocritical compliments 
between London and Versailles. Sometimes there were six 
or eight years of technical peace, before the succeeding declar- 
ation of war by the distant kings; but the tomahawk never 
got rusty in the wilderness, and the governor of New Hamp- 
shire never ceased to pay a bounty for the scalps of Indians 
and Frenchmen. Indeed, so natural and legitimate was this 
singular industry regarded that an amendment to include 
**the enemys scalps'* was added, nem. con., to the bill in the 
Legislature offering a premium for the heads of wolves and pan- 
thers. 1 Woe betide the family that wandered far beyond the frail 
blockhouses which the pioneers on this remote frontier threw 
up for their defence, and woe betide the settlement that relaxed 
its vigil on account of a proclamation of peace. In fact. 

» One of the colonies, indeed, enacted a Sunday law which provided that 
no man should "fire off a gun or musket on the Sabbath day — except it 
be fired at an Indian. " Such barbarous practices were not even confined to 
that early day, for, nearly a century later, during the Revolution, Great 
Britain resorted to the same method of warfare. In Buckle's History of 
Civilization, vol. i., page 344, may be read ; "Among the expenses of the war 
that the government laid before Parliament, one of the items was for five 
gross of scalping knives." Scalping seems to have been the invention of 
white men, who taught the Indians to scalp in order that they might keep 
tally of their dead and thus be entitled to their bounty. 


The Bloody Frontier 5 

some of the most sanguinary massacres on both sides occurred 
during the seasons of diplomatic tranquillity. 

The few whites who pressed thither, constantly if slowly 
enlarging the periphery of scant occupation, treated the 
Indians as white men on this continent have always treated 
them, and as conquerors in every land have always treated 
those whom they drove from their homes: — ^as having no 
right whatever to resist the invaders and as being barbarians 
and ** insurgents'* if they presumed to set up a claim to any- 
thing that the newcomers wanted. It is not to be denied 
that the Indians had warlike methods of their own; but 
reading the history of that century in detail and comparing 
battle ^vith battle, treachery with treachery, and massacre 
with massacre, it does not appear that the Pequots or the 
Mohawks were a whit more savage than were the Puritans 
and their descendants who bought powder and bullets and 
came across the country from Boston and New Haven. 



DURING this first half of the eighteenth century adven- 
turous and enterprising families, mostly from Connecti- 
cut, numbering a few score in all, crossed the northern 
line of Massachusetts and built rude cabins in sheltered valleys 
and within reach of "the blockhouse" west of the Connecticut 
River. This frontier community, whose most fearless members 
built their log cabins overlooking the southern waters of Lake 
Champlain, bore about the same relation to the Connecticut 
of that time that Wyoming and New Mexico now bear to our 
Atlantic States, except that it was provided with fewer com- 
forts and, in point of time spent in transportation thither, it 
was more distant and less accessible. Only near the river and 
along the border of Massachusetts was there a sufficient cluster 
of inhabitants for protection against the wolves and bears. 

This southernmost section of the wild territory, lying just 
north of the Massachusetts line and consisting of nearly one hun- 
dred square miles, was originally claimed by the Massachusetts 
Bay Company; but in 171 5 it was ceded by that Company to 
Connecticut as an equivalent for 197,793 acres of land amicably 
transferred by the latter in straightening the common bound- 
ary. ^ Ten years later it was put up at auction by the thrifty 

» Connecticut at this time also owned a strip fifty miles wide extending 
westward through Pennsylvania, Ohio, Indiana, and IlHnois, to the Missis- 
sippi River, even embracing within its limits the site of the present city of 
Chicago. From this vast domain the "Western Reserve" was cut off by 
Connecticut after the Revolution and conferred on the soldiers of the State 


Vermont up at Auction 7 

colony which had obtained it and was bought at the cost of 
about one quarter of a cent an acre by Governor William 
Dummer, of Massachusetts, and others, who, in turn, conferred 
its political jurisdiction on New Hampshire, imderstood to 
own westward to Lake Champlain imder royal title. Attrac- 
tive accoimts of the fertility and salubrity of the region were 
published in Boston, New Haven, Hartford, and Providence, 
where the colonists declared that they were becoming tmcom- 
fortably overcrowded ; and, gradually and slowly, decade by de- 
cade, through the first half of the eighteenth century, pioneers 
from Boston Bay, Long Island Sound, and the Narragan- 
setts, each with wife and children, axe and ox-team, powder- 
horn and shotgun, strayed into the northern wilderness and 
set up a straggling skirmish line of cabins. And there each 
contributed his days* works to the common defence, and the 
frail structure which they had built as a rallying point they 
named, after the chief proprietor of the land. Fort Dummer. 
The inhabitants of this region now constitute the towns of 
Dummerston, Brattleboro, Vernon, and Putney in Vermont. 
The first settlers thought they were in Massachusetts but for 
generations thereafter they were claimed also by both New 
Hampshire and New York as "the equivalent land." 

The land to which they had come was a contested land. 
As was equally the case in Connecticut, Rhode Island, New 
Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Virginia, the charters of coterminous 
colonies conflicted here. Every part of New England was 
a No Man's Land. The royal Stuarts were always exceedingly 
dull in geography and arithmetic — probably at the very foot 
of the class of crowned heads. They were effusive in affection 
and profoimd in. lack of information. They were reckless 
in their prodigality. The Charleses and Jameses and even 
William gave away empires five times as large as England over 
and over again, apparently without a thought whether they 
had previously conferred them on somebody else or not. 
They were perfectly willing to be thought inaccurate, but 
determined not to be called stingy. So, charters and patents 

as a bounty, and on the schools of the State as a fund. This for a generation 
was called New Connecticut, and members of the Assembly came to the 
Legislature of Connecticut from Westmoreland, now the northeastern part 
of Pennsylvania. 

8 Fifty Years in Camp and Field 

were found to overlie each other from the Penobscot to the 
Potomac. There was everywhere a startling disregard of 
prior rights. Each succeeding parasite expected the king 
to hail him ** our righte trustie and well beloved, " and to give 
him "of our abimdant grace, sertain knowledge and meer 
motion," a thousand square miles of land, in the bestowal 
of which the **meer motion** and "abimdant grace*' were 
indeed obvious, but the "sertain knowledge'* very uncertain; 
for the earHest and latest favorites were alike bidden to go to 
the coimtry "inhabited by some barbarous people who have 
no knowledge of Almighty God** and find and bound their 
new barony by the Ocracock, Pocomoke, Sowampset, Quonek- 
tacut, Curritunk, and Narrow Highgansetts, wherever and 
whenever those rivers might be found. ^ 

When, in 1763, France finally surrendered Canada to 
England her terrified and abandoned colonists between Lake 
Champlain and the Connecticut River burned their homes 
and fled through the woods to Montreal and Quebec, and to 
their still smoking cabins and ruined crops came a heavy 
immigration of settlers into northern New England — ^an 
immigration never again to be turned back. 

The colony of New Hampshire by its charter was bounded 
on the west by "the other royal governments,** and its suc- 
cessive governors for generations construed this to mean Lake 
Champlain. In accordance with this understanding Governor 
Benning Went worth of that colony, between the years 1760 
and 1768, sold to settlers the titles to large tracts west of the 
Connecticut River and above the Massachusetts line. One 
of the tracts thus granted, named for the Governor, became 

» Like master like man. The king's favorites imitated the king in their 
exercise of generosity in mischievous duplications. As early as 1696, 
Governor Fletcher of New York, a creature of William and Mary, bestowed 
840 square miles of Vermont on a Dutch priest, Godfrey Dellius, and Dellius, 
by means common in those days, induced the Indians to confirm the deed. 
Dellius agreed to pay Fletcher as follows: "He rendering and paying there 
for yearly and every Year Unto us our Heirs and Successors, on Feast Day of 
the Annunciation of our blessed Virgin Mary, at our City of New York, the 
Annual Rente of one Raccoon Skin in lieu and stead of all other Rente, Ser- 
vices, Dues, Duties, and Demands whatever, for the said Tract of Land and 
islands and Premises. " Almost a hundred years later the descendants of 
Dellius strove to compel a recognition of this gift of 840 square miles of 
Vermont I 

New Hampshire Grant 9 

Bennington. During the first four of these years his personal 
land office had been exceedingly active, for he had thus dis- 
posed of 1 18 townships, each six miles square. 1 In the mean- 
time New York, by her Governor, Colden, proclaimed in 1763 
that all such lands were the property of New York and could 
be guaranteed only by New York under the old grant of Charles 
II. to the Duke of York. 

Governor Wentworth issued a counter proclamation declar- 
ing the grant of King Charles to be obsolete and to be super- 
seded by the later New Hampshire charter. New York 
appealed to King George to decide the controversy, and to the 
consternation of the settlers, he confirmed the grant of King 
Charles and gave New York jurisdiction, de jure and de facto, 
present and past, as far as the Connecticut River. The 
Governor of that colony thereupon began to sell again the 
townships that had been sold by New Hampshire and long 
since occupied, and Governor Wentworth increased the confu- 
sion by backing square down and advising the grantees of 
New Hampshire whose money he had in his pocket to make 
terms with New York and concede her right to sell their 
lands over again. This surrender was made the very year 
that Ethan Allen and his compatriots arrived from Connecticut 
and settled in the New Hampshire Grants. Rival purchasers 
strove to get possession of the land and mutual exasperation 
and recrimination followed. 

A imique emigration to the strange woods of the north 
had set in after the middle of the century. As we have seen, 
many of the very earliest settlers in the New Hampshire 
Grants were from Connecticut, 2 and during the next century 

» We are told that this land was transferred for " a nominal consideration, " 
but it appears more explicitly that Governor Wentworth received $ioo for 
each township and that Governor Colden sometimes received as much as 
$2000 per township — frequently the same tract of land. This was no small 
burden for poor frontiersmen. Governor Wentworth became very rich and 
lived in Portsmouth with a splendid retinue and gorgeous chariots befitting 
his aristocratic name and lineage. 

2 The large proportion of Connecticut families among the settlers of 
Vermont may be inferred from the names which they carried from the 
older colony and bestowed upon Vermont towns, including Addison, Avery^ 
Berlin, Bethel, Bolton, Bristol, Brookfield, Burlington, Canaan, Colchester, 
Cornwall, Coventry, Derby, East Haven, Fairfield, Fair Haven, Franklin, 
Goshen, Groton, Guilford, Hartford, Manchester, Middletown, New Haven, 

lo Fifty Years in Camp and Field 

they were followed by their relatives, friends, and neighbors, 
until at this time almost all of the settlers came, not only from 
Connecticut, but from Litchfield County — ^men of high intelli- 
gence, sturdy strength, and absolute fearlessness. 

A forerunner of the Green Moimtain Boys in this region 
was Remember Baker. ^ He enlisted in the British army 
for the invasion of Canada in 1757, was in the bloody and 
unsuccessful attack on Fort Ticonderoga the next year, and 
was engaged in the series of battles around Fort William Henry. 
In 1759 he left the army, paused a while at Fort Dummer in 
"the Grants, ** and then returned home to Woodbury, Connecti- 
cut, where one of the friends of his childhood, Mary Bronson, 
had married his favorite cousin, Ethan Allen. 

Most of the Allen family were of the same religious spirit 
as that which Ethan embodied in the "Oracles of Reason." 
His yoimger brothers and even his cousins repudiated the 
"orthodoxy" of their time. In the Connecticut C our ant 
(Hartford) of April 27, 1773, appeared the following — ^which, 
it will be noticed, locates Arlington, of the "New Hampshire 
Grants," as being in "the province of New York": 

$100 REWARD 

Escaped out of the custody of me the subscriber at Salisbury, 
on the night after the 19th of April inst., Remember Baker of 
Arlington, in Charlotte county, and province of New York, and 
Zimrie Allen of said Salisbury, being each of them under an arrest 
for blasphemy, committed at said Salisbury on or about the 28th 
day of March last. Said Baker is about 5 feet 9 or 10 inches high, 

Orange, Pomfret, Roxbury, Salisbury, Sharon, Stamford, Warren, Water- 
bury, Weathersfield, Weston, Windham, Windsor, Woodstock, and Wood- 

» Remember Baker was bom in Woodbury, Connecticut, in 1740. He 
was a man of remarkable courage, energy, and enterprise. Besides fighting 
in the French wars and in the contest for the defence of Vermont against 
the pretensions of New York, and in the capture of Ticonderoga and Crown 
Point, he accompanied his cousin, Ira Allen, in several expeditions to take 
possession of the northern half of Vermont, and was finally shot dead by 
an Indian while scouting on the Richelieu River in 1775 when only thirty- 
five years old. In the Connecticut Historical Collections, under Roxbury 
(then Woodbury), we read: "It appears that some of the first settlers were 
three families by the name of Baker who located themselves about half a 
mile above the present Episcopal church. " 

Remember Baker and his Cousins ii 

pretty well set, something freckled in his face. Said Allen is near 
6 feet high, slim built, goes something stooping, dark hair; each 
of said fellows being armed with sword and pistol, and are notorious 
for blasphemous expressions in conversation and ridiculing every- 
thing sacred. Whoever wdll apprehend said fellows and deliver 
them to the custody of the subscriber, so that they may be brought 
to justice shall have thirty pounds lawful money reward, for both, 
and fifteen pounds for either paid by 

Nathaniel Buell, Constable of Salisbury. 

Replying to this arraignment, under date of June 8, 1773, 
Baker and Allen published in the Courant the following an- 
nouncement of their Unitarian creed : 

To Mr. Watson, Sir: Your publishing the following lines in 
your paper will oblige yours, &c., whose names are to this piece 

Remember Baker and Zimri Allen, take this opportunity to 
inform the public that the blasphemy for which Nathaniel Buell 
constable of Salisbury, arrested them is entirely of a new specie. 
The indictment was not predicated on the Statute in the case of 
blasphemy, made and provided, but laid at common law; and 
though we uttered some words that might be construed satyrical 
against doctrines that some sectaries of christians believe to be 
sacred, yet we are rationally certain that many of the pulpit thum- 
pers, in their solemn addresses, much more blaspheme the per- 
fections and moral character of the God of Nature than we do. 
Indeed, according to our conceptions of God, we spake nothing 
irreverently of him; for we are not believers in the eternity and 
essential divinity of Christ, as consisting of the essence of God, 
but are Anti-Trinitarians. And as the said Buell is of a narrow 
and contracted disposition and capacity, he views such principles 
as his nurses and ghostly teachers have beat into his head as the 
standard of religion, and everything that is sacred; and being 
sparingly stocked with intelligence, and largely stocked with 
zeal and superstition, together with personal prejudice, over bal- 
anced his noddle, and by the instigation of the devil was moved to 
publish us in the Connecticut Courant No. 435, as being notorious 
for blasphemous expressions in conversation (to speak in his own 
dialect) "and ridiculing everything sacred. " 

Remember Barer and Zimry Allbn. 



IT was undoubtedly Remember Baker's tales of the perils 
of battle and of exciting frontier adventure that fired 
the imagination of Ethan Allen of Cornwall, and Doctor 
Benjamin Warner and his son Seth of Woodbury, and led 
them to cast in their lot with Captain Baker when he went 
back to the New Hampshire Grants in 1765. Allen was now 
twenty-eight years old, Baker twenty-five, and Seth Warner 
twenty-two. Ethan was shortly followed northward by two 
of his four brothers and several neighbors; and, when the 
whole made rendezvous at Bennington, Ethan Allen, notwith- 
standing his cousin's superior military experience, was acknow- 
ledged by tacit consent as their leader; not because he was 
the elder, but because he never knew subordination and because 
he possessed the resolute and masterful qualities which fitted 
him to command. Other daring spirits shortly joined them, 
and these vigorous and sometimes riotous compatriots, always 
the terror and frequently the scourge of ** Yorkers, " were 
thenceforth known and feared as the "Green Mountain Boys. " 
When they had been some months at their destination and had 
begun vigorously to participate in the defence of their new 
homes against the conflicting charters of capricious kings, Sher- 
iff Spencer of New York wrote to the governor of that colony, 
*'One Ethan Allen hath brought hither from Connecticut 
twelve or fifteen of the most blackguard fellows he can find. " 
As has been seen, Governor Tryon of New York had laid 
claim to this territory before these* * blackguard fellows " arrived 
from Connecticut and he and his predecessors had sold much 
of it under the charter giving to the Duke of York the whole 

The Green Mountain Boys 13 

country between **the Cbnnecticut River and the Delaware 
Bay," but this claim was not finally ratified by King George 
III. and its enforcement vigorously attempted by his agents 
till the very year these troublesome persons became residents 
of the new township of Bennington. 

It would be out of place here to give a detailed history 
of the partisan warfare which followed during the succeeding 
ten years. Under the lead of Ethan Allen, the Green Mountain 
Boys scouted and ridiculed the royal mandate of confiscation. 
They repudiated and defied the authority of the king and his 
officers from **the invading colony," as they called it; they 
refused to pay taxes or render any service to those claimants ; 
they drove out the collectors and sheriffs, and declared that 
they would defend with their lives the land that they had 
bought^; and when "Yorkers" came up the river to settle 

» The diary of General Hitchcock makes the following allusion to these 
men: "They said, — Ethan Allen, my grandfather, at the head of them — 
'We have purchased these lands under a regular patent from the English 
government, and if there is anything wrong about it the government must 
make it right, not we who have paid for the lands and have improved them. 
They are our homes and the homes of our families, and we will defend them. ' 
The New York claimants sent sheriffs into Vermont to take possession, but 
Allen and his compeers amused themselves in scaring them out of the country, 
once or twice using them a little roughly. One was tied to a basket and 
hauled up to the top of the tavern signpost, a public spectacle, and made 
to sit there till he promised to leave the country. On another occasion two 
sheriffs were captured and lodged in opposite apartments, before the win- 
dows of which, at a distance, the Green Mountain Boys had hung an effigy. 
At early dawn one of them was cautiously awakened, as if by a friend, and 
told to look out of the window upon his companion, seen swinging in the 
distance. He was glad to take advice and hastily flee the country. The 
other one was then treated to the same spectacle and the same advice and 
fled. Away they both went by different roads, to be astonished at meeting 
at Albany a few days afterwards when each thought the other a ghost." 

In his History of Vermont, Ira Allen, brother of General Ethan Allen, 
says: "Many of the partisans of New York were whipped almost to death. 
. . . Doctor Samuel Adams was caught and hauled up to the top of a 
signpost where sat a stuffed catamount, twenty-five feet from the ground, 
with large teeth, looking and grinning towards New York." One of these 
Yorkers was whipped till he had fainted away three times and others were 
still more severely used. 

An account in the Hartford Courant in 1772 runs thus: "The writs 
of ejectment coming thicker and faster, women sobbing, children crying and 
men pierced to the heart with sorrow and indignation at the approaching 
attorney of New York; meanwhile a spirited valiant man took a small ox- 
goad and coldly belabored one of the officers. . . . God thus overrules 
oppression for good. " 

14 Fifty Years in Camp and Field 

on farms occupied by the grantees of New Hampshire, the 
stout yeomanry caught them, menaced them "with a good 
licking,*' and, on finding them obstreperous, tied them to 
trees and "chastised them with the twigs of the wilderness 
grown on the soil which they coveted,'* as Allen described 
it, or, according to his other euphemism, "stamped them with 
the beech seal, more potent than the seal of the Duke of 
York." On one occasion after several Yorkers had been 
violently expelled. Colonel Allen, the commander of the defend- 
ers of their homes, went coolly to Albany for the purpose 
of repudiating the court's authority, and there informed 
the king's attorney, with a whimsical paraphrase of Judges 
i. 19, that "the gods of the valleys are not the gods of the 
hills. " Throughout the prolonged contest, always menacing 
and sometimes bloody, the scattered community valiantly 
defended itself against the aggressors. Never, at any time, 
were they driven from their homes, nor was the colony of 
New York, though acting with the royal approval, able to 
visit them with any serious punishment. 

Remember Baker, indeed, was once surprised and captured 
at his home in Arlington, after a sharp contest in which he 
was cruelly maimed, and his captors hurried him towards 
Albany; but eleven of his compatriots rallied and cut off the 
king's officers and their force, before they reached Troy with 
their prisoner, whom they rescued and returned with in tri- 
umph. ^ By this time, Allen, Baker, Warner, Robert Cochran, 

> The Hartford Courant, April 28, 1772, gives the following account 
of this affair: "On Lord's Day, 22d. of Instant, March, in the Dead of 
Night, a collected number of Scotchmen, about twelve or fifteen of Them, 
made an Assault on the House of Mr. Remember Baker of said Arlington, 
broke the Door down, entered the House, Baker awakened from sleep, sprang 
into the Chamber and there defended Himself a little space with a Broad 
Ax but being overpowered with Numbers, armed with Broad Swords, Cut- 
lasses and Pistols, fled to the Gable End of the House, and with the Broad 
Ax stove off a Board and leaped out, but unfortunately lit in a Snow Bank 
which took him in to his Middle, in which Situation he was surrounded, 
taken and bound. No person in the Mob was hurt in the Fray, nor did they 
hurt Baker till after they had Boimd him, then they inhumanly cut him with 
their Swords across the Head, and cut one Arm near half off and almost split 
his Thumb off from the Hand of the other Arm, after this they Barbarously 
Cut said Baker's Wife across the Head and Neck and Cut a great Gash in the 
Arm of a Boy of the said Baker about 12 years old. They fastened Baker 
on a Horse and set out for New York, but the Country round about arose 

Reinforcements from Connecticut 15 

and three others, had been declared outlaws and their lives 
a forfeit by authority of the king, and bounties of $250 to 
$750 were offered by Governor Tryon for the capture and 
delivery of any of them at Albany.^ They defiantly issued 
a counter proclamation, in which they offered an insignificant 
sum of money for the delivery to them of James Duane or 
John Tabor Kemp, the king's attorneys in New York. 

During these years of strife the settlement of the ''Grants'* 
became more and more considerable and still, as at first, it 
was mostly from Connecticut. And it was to Connecticut 
that the harried settlers turned for S3mipathy, aid, and rein- 
forcement. On Jan. 23, 1770, a meeting was held in Sharon, 
Litchfield County, to concert measures for the defence of the 
New Hampshire Grants, "it being thought grievous, burthen- 
some and unjust that any man should be obliged to defend 
his title alone. " An adjourned meeting was held in Canaan, 
another town adjoining Salisbury, on March 1 5th, to * * agree on 
the best method of defending the Hampshire titles. " It was 
resolved that personal re-enforcement was the best defence, 
and a score of stout-hearted yeomen went from Litchfield 
County that same spring. 

In 1772, Ira Allen and Remember Baker, two of the most 
aggressive and enterprising of the Vermont pioneers, pushed 
on up the lake shore, and made a clearing and started a 
settlement at Winooski Falls, on the Onion River, the site 

and pursued this Banditti party and retook said Baker and Took him to a 
House and before they had drest his Wounds he had fainted three times. " 

» One of the claimants under the New York grantees was David Wooster. 
He was caught by the Green Mountain Boys and threatened with "a view, " 
and when he became satisfied that his captors were in earnest he obtained 
his liberty by agreeing to leave and never return. Three years later he 
suggested that the man who had threatened him with the "beech seal" 
be sent to capture Ticonderoga, and two years still later, a brave General 
in the Continental army, he was killed during the British attack on Danbury, 

Governor Tryon showed the same cruelty in dealing with these frontiers- 
men that he had shown five years before in suppressing the "Regulators" 
in North Carolina, and that induced him a few years later to wantonly 
destroy Norwalk and Danbury in Connecticut — partly moved to the latter 
act, it was conjectured, by the fact that the Green Mountain Boys were 
from that colony. In their indignant retort they alluded in their procla- 
mations to "Governor Tryon and his Imps, minions of the British Tyrant, 
and* their hell-invented policy. " 

i6 Fifty Years in Camp and Field 

where now stands the handsome city of Burlington. Two 
years later Thomas Chittenden came from Salisbury, and 
Charles Marsh from Lebanon, Connecticut, and joined them.^ 
By this time the Aliens had become not only chief defenders 
but large proprietors. The brothers Ethan, Ira, Zimri, and 
their faithful cousin, had bought more than four hundred 
square miles of the land along the lake shore and had built 
thereon saw-mills and grist-mills and established a line of 
blockhouses and defensive outposts. Even Heman and Levi 
had joined in the speculation with their small savings from 
the sales of *'dry goods and groceries. ** The Hartford C our ant 
was the principal **organ" of the New Hampshire Grants, 
and in June, 1773, it printed an elaborate advertisement of 
the landed estates of ** Ethan Allen & Co.** in the north. 
It began: 

Lately purchased by Aliens and Baker a large tract of land 
situate on both sides of the mouth of Onion River and fronting 
Westerly on Lake Champlain, containing about 45,000 acres and 
Sundry lesser parcels of land further up the said river. 

It continued by praising the new regions: the fertility 
of soil, the plenty and variety of timber, the salubrity of 
climate, the contiguity of water power, and the marvellous 
abundance of game and fish were set forth in florescent style. 
"Whoever inclines to be a purchaser may apply to Ethan, 
Zimri and Ira Allen on the premises, or to Heman and Levi 
Allen in Salisbury. '* 

» Chittenden became the first Governor of Vermont and held the office 
for eighteen years. Marsh was appointed District Attorney by Washington 
and became a member of Congress from the State. His son was minister to 
Italy for twenty years. It may be added that about this time many able 
men came from Connecticut to Vermont : Stephen R. Bradley, from Cheshire, 
became the first United States Senator, Elijah Paine, from Brooklyn, became 
the second, and Nathaniel Chipman, from Salisbury, the home of the Aliens, 
became the third. 



AT last, one memorable day in April, 1775, the shot fired 
at Lexington obscured the more trivial contest, and 
virtually put an end to the struggle of the New Hamp- 
shire Grants with New York by giving the defenders of their 
homes a nobler quarry. A small force of well armed British 
regulars held the forts at Ticonderoga and Crown Point at the 
south end of Lake Champlain and within a mile of the terri- 
tory claimed by the New Hampshire Grants. 

The New England patriots saw their chance. One of the 
most ardent and fearless of these was Benedict Arnold, a drug- 
gist of New Haven. He was Captain of the Governor's Guards, 
and when the news of the battle of Lexington reached there 
he at once set out for Boston with his company, in defiance of 
the local authority, helping himself to ammunition as he started. 
On the march to Hartford, at Wethersfield, he fell in with 
Maj. Samuel H. Parsons, then and for eighteen years a member 
of the Legislature, and told him that Ticonderoga was defended 
by but a few men and that **it ought to be captured at once. " 
As Arnold led his men forward to Boston, Parsons hastened 
to act upon the hint. He called a secret meeting in Hartford 
that very night, consisting of local Indian fighters and leaders 
in the Legislature, and they devised and completed their 
plans. At this meeting, besides Major Parsons,^ were Silas 

» Parsons, of New London, who had been Major in the militia for five 
years, became a Major-General during the Revolution, succeeding Putnam. 
In New Jersey he reinforced Washington, who in 1789 appointed him the 
first judge of the Northwest Territory. Notwithstanding these distinguished 
services, it is now alleged by the British that he held treasonable corre- 
spondence with them during the war. 
2 17 

1 8 Fifty Years in Camp and Field 

Deane,! Samuel Wyllys,^ Elisha Phelps, Noah Phelps,^ William 
Williams, 4 Jesse Root,5 Charles Webb, ^ Doctor Joshua Porter/ 
and Edward Mott. How to set the expedition on foot without 
involving the Assembly, was the first question. How to raise 
the indispensable funds was the second. They were both 
settled in an hour. It was resolved to borrow the money from 
the treasury of the Connecticut Colony on the personal vouch- 
ers of *'this committee," and it was done. The members 
named above signed a joint note and obtained $1800. 

Having heard much of the high spirit which Ethan Allen 
had exhibited in the settlers' contest for their homes, it was 
at once voted to call him to lead the expedition, and Noah 
Phelps and Charles Webb were selected as messengers to 
hasten to Bennington and summon him to that service. 
Elisha Phelps was made Commissary of the force. A con- 
ference was held with the military expert, Col. David 
Wooster, who approved the steps that had been taken. A 
committee of four (Edward Mott, chairman) started for 
Salisbury (the northwestern town of the State) early on the 
morning of Saturday, April 29th, Doctor Porter, of the As- 
sembly, suggesting that his town was the best place in 
which to recruit and equip. Ethan Allen's father w^as born 

» Deane, of Wethersfield, was a delegate to the Continental Congress 
and an ambassador to France with Doctor Franklin, He enlisted the 
services of Lafayette and De Kalb in the Revolution. 

2 Wyllys, of Hartford, commanded a regiment at the siege of Boston 
and served through the Revolution as a Colonel in the Connecticut line. He 
was then elected Secretary of State, an office which was held by his grand- 
father, his father, and himself for ninety-eight years in succession. 

3 Phelps, of Simsbury, was a Captain of militia before the Revolution 
and during the war served as Captain, Major, and Colonel, He was then 
made Brigadier-General of the Connecticut militia, and a member of the 
Legislature for many years. 

* Williams, of Lebanon, was Speaker of the House, and in the Legislature 
more than fifty years. He was also a Colonel of militia, a member of Con- 
gress, and one of the signers of the Declaration of Independence, 

' Root, of Coventry, was a member of the Continental Congress, in 1778- 
83, and was Chief Justice of Connecticut under Adams, He was also a 
preacher and a lieutenant-colonel in one of Washington's regiments. 

* Webb was for twenty-eight years member of the Assembly from Stam- 
ford and was Colonel of the 1 9th Connecticut regiment in the Revolution, 

' Porter, of Salisbury, was a member of the Assembly and during the 
Revolution became a Colonel in the Continental army, leading a regiment 
at the battle of Saratoga. 

Forced March Northward 19 

there, and many of Ethan's relatives and friends would be 
sure to join the expedition. Moreover, that was the place to 
obtain bullets and cannon balls. 

An iron mine in Salisbury, known as "Old Ore Hill,'* had 
been worked since 1732, and in that year a forge was erected 
there before Ethan Allen was born. Several thousand tons 
of ore were mined and worked annually. In 1762, when Ethan 
Allen was twenty-five, he proposed to his fellow- townsmen 
more thoroughly to utilize the excellent hematite ore found 
in such quantities, and they organized a company and built 
there a blast furnace and iron foundry. Cannons, balls, 
bomb-shells, and shot w^ere produced at this rustic factory 
and the excellent guns on board the famous United States 
frigate Constellation, commanded by Commodore Truxton, 
when she captured a French vessel twice her size in 1799, 
were turned out of this old furnace in Salisbury. Hither 
now came the self-appointed "committee'* from Hartford, 
and they picked up recruits as they advanced. One who 
eagerly joined with a squad of Massachusetts men at Pitts- 
field was James Easton,^ who had moved from Litchfield, 
Conn., ten years before. 

As anticipated, ammunition and supplies were obtained 
in Salisbtiry for the projected attack on the frontier fortresses. 
Forty men enlisted at once, and hurried across Massachusetts 
and found Colonel Allen and his little force at Bennington. 
Instantly there was renewed activity and a forced march to far 
off Castleton (May 8th) , but before the Connecticut men could 
move farther. Col. Benedict Arnold made his appearance 
from Boston. He was without soldiers, but he had a com- 
mission and on the strength of that he assumed the right of 
command. The Litchfield County recruits were not overawed. 
They had brought their town-meeting with them and they im- 
mediately took a vote to determine who should command them. 
The vote was unanimous for Ethan Allen, whereupon Colonel 
Arnold patriotically asked permission to march with them as a 
private soldier. Colonel Allen thereupon appointed him to be 
his chief -of -staff and the expedition started for its destination. 

» Easton secured important recruits, marched forward as their captain, 
and became the bearer of the news of the capture of "old Ti" to the Conti- 
nental Congress. He afterwards served as Colonel in the Revolution. 

20 Fifty Years in Camp and Field 

While Allen's command was toilsomely making its way 
towards the hostile fortress a hundred miles northward through 
the almost pathless woods, Noah Phelps performed a gallant 
and valuable service. Donning the attire of a frontiersman, 
he hurried forward, made his way boldly into Fort Ticonderoga, 
and asked to be shaved by the barber. While undergoing 
this operation he obtained information from the talkative 
tonsorial artist, of the strength of the garrison and defences, 
the picket line, and the distances and directions, and imme- 
diately left in a boat without exciting suspicion and met and 
guided the approaching column. 

The story 1 of the arrival under the walls of the fort at 
early dawn, May loth, of Allen's short speech to his men, in 
which he explained to them the hazards and offered any an 
opportimity to withdraw, the narrow escape of the intrepid 
leader from the sentry's musket, the surprise of Captain 
Delaplace in his bed, and the brilliant capture of the fortress, 
*'in the name of the great Jehovah and the Continental Con- 

» Ethan Allen, in his interesting Narrative of two hundred pages, has given 
an account of this morning's work as follows: "I landed eighty- three men 
near the garrison, and sent the boats back for the rear-guard, commanded 
by Colonel Seth Warner; but the day began to dawn, and I found myself 
under a necessity to attack the fort, before the rear could cross the lake; and, 
as it was viewed hazardous, I harangued the officers and soldiers in the man- 
ner following: 'Friends and fellow-soldiers, You have, for a number of 
years past, been a scourge and peril to arbitrary power. Your valor has 
been famed abroad, and acknowledged, as appears by the advice and orders 
to me from the General Assembly of Connecticut, to surprise and take the 
garrison now before us. I now propose to advance before you, and, in 
person, conduct you through the wicket gate; for we must this morning 
either quit our pretensions to valor, or possess ourselves of this fortress in a 
few minutes; and, inasmuch as it is a desperate attempt, which none but 
the bravest of men dare undertake, I do not urge it on any contrary to his 
will. You that will undertake voluntarily, poise your firelocks. ' The men 
being at this time drawn up in three ranks, each poised his firelock. I or- 
dered them to face to the right; and, at the head of the centre file, marched 
them immediately to the wicket gate aforesaid, where I found a sentry 
posted, who instantly snapped his fusee at me : I ran immediately towards 
him and he retreated through the covered way into the parade within the 
garrison, gave a halloo and ran under a bomb-proof. My party, who followed 
me into the fort, I formed on the parade in such manner as to face the two 
barracks which faced each other. The garrison being asleep, except the 
sentries, we gave three huzzas which greatly surprised them. One of the 
sentries made a pass at one of my officers with a charged bayonet, and 
slightly wounded him: My first thought was to kill him with my sword; 

.us; . 

Marvellous Victory 2 1 

gress, '*^ has been often told. Immediately subsequent Crown 
Point was taken by Colonel Seth Warner, and St. John's by 
Colonel Benedict Arnold. 

The prisoners were sent to Connecticut in honor of her ex- 
traordinary services, the entire enterprise from first to last 
having been conducted by Connecticut men and the expenses 
being borne ultimately by the treasury of that State. In 
this affair eighty-three men, armed only with muskets, without 
bayonets, captured, without any loss whatever, three important 
forts, large magazines of powder, many stands of muskets, 
a sloop-of-war of sixteen guns, eighty prisoners and three 
hundred pieces of artillery! Many of these cannon were 
dragged on sleds through the snow to Boston the next winter 
and were employed during the siege; and other portions of 
the vast stores were used to drive back upon Montreal the 
army that threatened fatally to separate the revolted colonies 
by cutting off New England. 

After this remarkable victory had been won by the gal- 
lant co-operation of all, Colonel Arnold again applied for the 
command, by virtue of his commission from the Boston Coun- 
cil of Safety. Again the soldiers remonstrated. He called 

but, in an instant, I altered the design and fury of the blow to a slight cut 
on the side of the head ; upon which he dropped his gun and asked quarter, 
which I readily granted him, and demanded of him the place where the 
commanding officer kept; he shewed me a pair of stairs in the front of a 
barrack, on the west part of the garrison, which led up to a second story 
in said barrack, to which I immediately repaired, and ordered the commander, 
Capt. Delaplace, to come forth instantly or I would sacrifice the whole 
garrison ; at which the Capt. came immediately to the door with his breeches 
in his hand; when I ordered him to deliver to me the fort instantly; he asked 
of me by what authority I demanded it: I answered him, 'In the name 
of the great Jehovah, and the Continental Congress!' The authority of 
the Congress being very little known at that time, he began to speak again, 
but I interrupted him, and, with my drawn sword over his head, again de- 
manded an immediate surrender of the garrison; with which he then com- 
plied, and ordered his men to be forthwith paraded without arms, as he 
had surrendered. " 

» This, Allen's elaborate version, was probably an afterthought, as one 
of the guides who followed him closely always averred that the Colonel's 
reply was "In the name of the Continental Congress, get out of there, you 
damned rat!" Even this demand involved a misstatement for purposes of 
intimidation, as Allen was at the door of Captain Delaplace's bedroom 
without authority from anybody whatever, even the Legislature of Connecti- 
cut; and the Continental Congress, instead of ordering the expedition, knew 
nothing about it, and did not assemble for organization till the next day. 

22 Fifty Years in Camp and Field 

attention to the obvious fact that nobody else had a commis- 
sion of any kind. Then, in order to settle finally the question 
of authority, Mr. Mott wrote out a commission for Ethan Allen 
as Colonel, signing it "Edw. Mott, Chairman.'* This seemed 
to satisfy everybody and we hear no more about precedence. 
Colonel Allen wrote on May 12 th to Governor Jonathan 
Trumbull of Connecticut, a letter of congratulation, beginning: 
** Hon'ble Sir: I make you a present," and specifying the 
results of the victory. The prisoners reached Hartford on 
May i8th. 

Connecticut and "the Grants" exchanged much jubilation, 
but New York heard the great news sullenly. The Green 
Mountain Boys had reversed conditions and become invaders. 
Elisha Phelps wrote home, "I saw a young gentleman from 
Albany that says they disapprove of our taking the fort, 
because that we did not acquaint them of it before it was 

The capture of men and material was not the most im- 
portant feature of this affair. It was the first offensive battle 
fought by the Americans. It taught the farmers that they 
could face the British regulars and its astonishing result gave 
the New Hampshire Grants an assured position among the 
colonies. New York still remonstrated against any recognition 
of "felons," but they retorted that the old fight for their 
homes was only a revolt against this same King George 
and they plunged into the Revolution with renewed vigor. 
Though maligned and repudiated by New York, Allen made 
his way to Philadelphia, where his great services were officially 
recognized by the Continental Congress. 

Before the summer was ended Colonel Allen headed an 
expedition for the capture of Montreal, but he was taken 
prisoner on September 25th, to the great joy of the British, 
and conveyed to England, where he was cruelly treated and 
kept a prisoner for more than two years. On his return to 
Vermont he received an enthusiastic greeting. He was com- 
missioned a Colonel in the Continental army "in reward of 
his fortitude, firmness and zeal in the cause of his country, 
manifested in the course of a long and cruel captivity as well 
as on former occasions. ** 

Hearing that the captor of "Old Ti" was again free, 


Marvellous Victory 23 

George Washington sent him a friendly salutation. The 
next three years were spent by Ethan Allen in temporizing 
with the aiithorities of Great Britam. He always preferred 
fighting to finessing, but he now showed himself master of the 
less agreeable art. The old dispute between New Hampshire 
and New York broke out again, and was permitted to drag 
along till the British commanders in New York and Canada 
sought to take advantage of the resulting irritation to restore 
the royal authority in Vermont. Ethan and Ira Allen smiled 
upon the proposition, and even when the notorious Beverly 
Robinson made to them an attractive offer to sell their coun- 
try similar to the one which he had just successfully made to 
Arnold, they feigned an inclination to accept it, but adjourned 
the conference from time to time while asking for better terms. 
After informing Washington and Governor Jonathan Trumbull 
of the game, they prolonged the mock negotiations from 
month to month till Vermont was saved by the ruse from the 
threatened invasion of the British army of 10,000 from the 
north. At the close of the Revolution, Colonel Allen was 
Brigadier-General of the State militia, and was appointed a 
special delegate to Congress, where he succeeded in obtaining 
the recognition of Vermont ^ as an independent State on 
March 4, 1791. 

» When, during the Revolution, in 1777, the inhabitants of the New 
Hampshire Grants applied for admission into the colonial confederacy, 
they declared that they were "free and independent" and would "hereafter 
be known as the State of New Connecticut. " It was concluded afterwards, 
however, that as Ohio was already called New Connecticut, and as the absurd 
and unnecessary prefix of "New" had become a burden to enough Ameri- 
can States and cities, the significant and euphonious designation, "Vermont, " 
suggested by Dr. Thomas Young, of Philadelphia, should be adopted by 
the settlers. Young was a scholar and an intimate friend of Ethan Allen, 
with whom he coincided in his religious views. 



ALMOST all of the babes born in New England during the 
seventeenth and eighteenth centuries were given Jewish 
names in solemn baptism. The Puritans scorned and 
detested the euphonious French nomenclature introduced into 
England by those sons of Belial who came to the court with 
James and Charles. They likened England to Egypt, the In- 
dians to the hated Canaanites, and themselves to the blessed 
children of Israel. The Merrimac River w^as their Jordan, and 
Capt. Miles Standish and Maj. John Mason were their Joshua 
and Joab. The earth was the Lord's, they said, and therefore 
the rightful inheritance of his worshipers. Even in their 
savage modes of warfare, which drove the Pequots, Wampa- 
noags, and Mohegans from their homes, they boasted that they 
used the tactics and methods of the grim warriors who dis- 
possessed the inhabitants of Canaan. So at the baptismal 
font the favorite and most loved names were Adam and Abel, 
Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, Moses and Aaron, Ammon, David, 
Daniel, Jonathan, Joseph, Joshua, Job, Hezekiah, Elijah, 
and Jonah. When these had been exhausted by a neighbor- 
hood there crowded thickly upon the helpless infants such 
Bible names as Abimelech, Achzib, Aholibamah, Mahalaleel, 
Hallelujah, Nimshi, Boaz, Doeg, Zerubbabel, and Sheshbazzar. 
Nor did such comely names as Ruth, Rachel, and Rebecca 
decorate all the women. Daughters were occasionally baptized 
Jael, Delilah, Rahab, andTamar, quite regardless of the repu- 
tation of those ladies. Even names of French extraction were 
sometimes deemed good enough for the girls, and we find wo- 


Hitchcocks 25 

men of those days baptized Lucy, Caroline, Charlotte, Margaret, 
and Isabella, but during the first part of the eighteenth century 
there were few men in New England except occasional immi- 
grants who bore such profane names as William, George, 
Charles, Robert, Albert, Louis, Edward, Richard, or Henry. 

Thus it was that the male ancestors of Ethan Allen Hitch- 
cock for several generations bore names almost exclusively 
selected from the Old Testament, both on his father's side 
and his mother's. In his mother's line they were Samuel, 
Nehemiah, Joseph, and Ethan ; in his father's line, they were 
Luke, John, Nathaniel, and Noah. 

The subject of this history was in the paternal line descended 
in the sixth generation from Luke Hitchcock, the first of the 
family to settle in America, the line of descent being as follows: 

Luke Hitchcock, born in Warwick, England, 1606. 

John, son of Luke, born in Wether sfield. Conn., 1635. 

Nathaniel, son of John, born in Springfield, Mass., 1659. 

Noah, son of Nathaniel, born in Brimfield, Mass., 1 715-16. 

Samuel, son of Noah, born in Brimfield, Mass., 1755. 

Ethan Allen, son of Samuel, born in Vergennes, Vermont, 

Of the ancestors of Judge Samuel Hitchcock, the father 
of the subject of this biography, little is known. Luke came 
to Connecticut with the English gentlemen who settled New 
Haven. Whether he came with the first party, via Boston, 
in 1638, is uncertain; but it is recorded that he took the free- 
man's oath in New Haven, July i, 1644. He jomed the older 
colony at Wethersfield a few years later, and died there in 
1659. In his will he left his widow considerable property 
for those times and "the education of my children in the fear 
of God and such other ways as may most advantage them." 
Luke Hitchcock^ seems to have been a prosperous pilgrim. 
He had early received the royal patent to a large tract of 
land in eastern Connecticut, but the remnant of the Pequots 
very reasonably insisted that an ancestral right to it was better 
than any transfer by a king who had never seen it, and they 

« In his will he spelt his name Hidgecocke, Hidgecoke, Hidgcock, Hitch- 
cok, and Hitchcock. The latter spelling has generally been adopted by 
his descendants. Those were the days of eccentric spelling. Shakspere, 
who lived at the same time as Luke Hitchcock, in the five signatures he 
has left us, spelled his own name in four different ways. 

26 Fifty Years in Camp and Field 

vigorously fought off everybody whom Luke Hitchcock sent 
to take possession. The government afterwards reimbursed 
him for the loss by giving him a deed for the town of Farming- 
ton; but that document was esteemed in the family of so 
little value that it was thoughtlessly used by his wife to lay 
over a pie in the oven, where it caught fire and burned up. 

Luke's son, John, was a thrifty farmer and a deacon of 
the church. He moved to Springfield, Mass., where he died 
respected by all. 

John's son, Nathaniel, moved a few miles east of Spring- 
field to a tract of fertile land watered by a stream, and there 
made his home. It was afterwards named Brimfield, and 
his family was the first that settled in the town. He was a 
weaver by trade. 

Nathaniel's son, Noah, was a shoemaker and farmer, and 
we know little of him except that he always earned a decent 
living and was chosen to be selectman of Brimfield for three 
years in succession. He was well informed for those days and 
was ambitious that his children should have an education 
which he himself had been unable to obtain. 

Noah's fourth son, Samuel, was born in Brimfield in 1755. 
His mother was Mary Burt, one of a family that has since 
produced masterful men in all parts of the country. On 
account of his father's prosperity^ and intelligence he had the 
coveted chance of obtaining a liberal schooling, and he was 
able even to make classical preparation at the hands of the 
local minister and finally to enjoy the unusual advantages 
of a Harvard College training. He graduated there in 1777, 
and read law with Hon. Jedediah Foster of Worcester. Here 
he was admitted to the practice of the law and between the 
ages of twenty-two and thirty he laid the fotindation of that 
thorough knowledge of jurisprudence which afterwards proved 
such a valuable acquisition not only to himself but to the 
inchoate colony northward, to which a few years later he 
emigrated and in whose service he won distinction. 

The Aliens of this stock were among the first of the Puritans 

> The Hitchcocks of Brimfield seem to have been marvellously pro- 
sperous considering the small opportunities of that rural community. Sam- 
uel A. Hitchcock, a cousin of this Judge Samuel, accumulated $3,000,000 
before 1850 and became a distinguished benefactor of his generation. 

Hitchcocks and Aliens 27 

to fly from the persecution of the detestable Archbishop Laud, 
and to follow the Pilgrims of the Mayflower to the new and 
strange wilderness which England claimed around Massachu- 
setts Bay. The first comer of this Allen family was Samuel. 
He was born in the town of Brain tree, Essex, England, during 
the turbulent reign of Queen Elizabeth, about the year 1588. 
The date of his migration to the pathless wilds of the west is 
not definitely known, but it was after he had arrived at middle 
life and probably in the year 1632 or 1633. The genealogy 
from this peaceful emigrant, Samuel, to Ethan, the frontier 
warrior, is as follows : 

Nehemiah, son of Samuel, bom in Windsor, Conn., 1636. 

Samuel, son of Nehemiah, born in Northampton, Mass., 

Joseph, son of Samuel, bom in Salisbury, Conn., 1708. 

Ethan, son of Joseph, born in Litchfield, Conn., 1737. 

Samuel, the emigrant, came first to Boston, whence he 
went to Cambridge, and three years later removed to the 
Connecticut River with the first settlers of the Hartford 
colony who established the town of Windsor. He was a man 
of commanding presence and of much public spirit — a leader 
in the new and harried settlement. He died in 1648, leaving 
three sons, of whom Nehemiah, Ethan's ancestor, was the 

Nehemiah in early life moved from Windsor to Northamp- 
ton, Mass., and afterwards to Salisbury, the most northwest- 
erly town in Connecticut, where he spent the remainder of 
his days. 

Nehemiah's son, Samuel, early left Northampton with his 
father's family and made his home in Salisbury. 

Samuel's son, Joseph, spent the first years of his life in 
Salisbury. He married Mary Remembrance Baker, of Wood- 
bury, in 1736, and after living three years in Litchfield, they 
moved to Cornwall about 1740, and there most of their children 
were bom and there Joseph Allen died, April 4, 1755. He 
was a sober and industrious farmer. His wife's nephew was 
that fearless pioneer. Remember Baker, whose heroic deeds 
are part of the early history of Vermont. 

Joseph Allen's children were in the order of their birth : 
Ethan, Heman, Lydia, Heber, Levi, Lucy, Zimri, and Ira. It 

28 Fifty Years in Camp and Field 

is noticeable that all these are Hebrew names, except Lucy, 
and even that is the feminine of the Bible name Lucas. As 
General Ethan and his seven brothers and sisters were very 
obstinate in their opinions and domineering in their methods, 
they were not always on the most amicable terms; and it 
was only half in jest that the eldest said to the others that he 
had known of but two women who were delivered of seven 
devils: the first, he explained, was Mary Magdalen, and the 
second, his own mother! Whether they were amicable or 
otherwise it certainly cannot be said that they were obscure. 
At least three of them attained \vide distinction, while the 
son of another of them was elected to Congress and became 
an able and useful diplomatist. ^ 

> There is room here for only a brief sketch of the brothers of Ethan 

Heman set up a store in Salisbury, Conn., in partnership with his brother 
Levi, and as he proved thrifty and forehanded his house was always re- 
garded more or less as the ancestral home. He became an influential citizen. 
He was a man of unusual ability and sound judgment, cool, cautious, delib- 
erate, conservative — presenting a sharp contrast to several of his brothers. 
He never settled permanently in Vermont, but he went thither, was captain 
of a company of Green Mountain Boys in 1 775, was engaged with his brothers 
in large land speculations, and spent considerable time in "the Grants" 
during the Revolutionary War. He was one of the delegates from Rutland 
to the convention which met at Winchester in January, 1777, ^^^ declared 
the independence of the colony, and was a delegate from Colchester to the 
convention which formed the State constitution. He died of a cold caught 
during the war. 

Heber and Zimri, unlike their brothers, never rendered themselves 
conspicuous in connection with political affairs. Zimri was like Ethan a 
"heretic" in religious matters, and lived a quiet and respectable life and 
died at Sheffield, Mass. Heber went to Poultney, Vt., and died there before 
reaching middle life. His second son, Heman, graduated from Dartmouth 
College and became a lawyer. He was successively chosen to be sheriff, 
judge of the County Court, member of the Legislature, and Brigadier-General 
in command of the State militia. He was elected to Congress in 181 7 and 
was appointed minister to Chili by President Monroe in 1823, and by Adams 
in 1825. His wife was a sister of Commodore Hull. 

Levi was the most eccentric and perhaps the most violent of the six 
brothers. He was bom in Cornwall, Conn., January 16, 1745, and he himself 
has recorded that he was a very obstinate and wayward youth. He moved 
to Salisbury and was Heman's partner in the store till June 5, i772,when 
he joined his brothers in land speculations in Vermont, but did not trans- 
plant his family there. At the commencement of the Revolution, while 
his "brothers were foremost in the fight for liberty and independence, he 
espoused the cause of Great Britain, publicly denounced the ** rebels," 
and was advertised in the Hartford Courant as a dangerous and malignant 

The Allen Brothers 29 

Ethan Allen was twice married. His first wife, Mary 
Bronson, and five children remained behind in Connecticut 
when he first went to Bennington, and they afterwards moved 
to Sheffield, Mass., where the only son, Joseph, died and the 
rest tarried until 1777. In this year, while Colonel Allen 

Tory. Not satisfied with lending his sympathy and words of encourage- 
ment to the enemy, he undertook to supply the British ships with provi- 
sions, was detected in the act, captured, and held a prisoner in the New 
London jail. His patriotic brothers, Ethan and Ira, indignant and cha- 
grined, complained to the government and secured the confiscation of his 
immense landed estate in Vermont. The following is the application to 

this end : — 

"^Arlington, 9th Jan., 1779. 

'* To the Honorable the Court of Confiscation — comes Ethan Allen in the 
name of the freemen of this state, and complaint makes that Levi Allen, late 
of Salisbury in Connecticut, is of Tory principles and holds in fee sundry 
tracts and parcels of land in this State. The said Levi has been detected 
in endeavoring to supply the enemy on Long Island and in attempting to 
circulate counterfeit continental currency, and is guilty of holding treason- 
able correspondence with the enemy under cover of doing favors to me 
when a prisoner in New York and on Long Island, and of talking and using 
influence in favor of the enemy, associating with persons inimical to this 
country and with them monopolizing the necessities of life and endeavoring 
to lessen the credit of the continental currency and in particular hath exeirted 
himself in the most fallacious manner to injure the property and character 
of some of the most zealous friends of the independence of the United States 
and of this state likewise, all which inimical conduct is against the peace 
and dignity of the free men of this state, and I therefore pray the honorable 
court to take the matter under consideration and make confiscation of the 
estate of the said Levi before mentioned, according to the laws and customs 
of this state in such case made and provided. 

Ethan Allen. 

After lying in jail for six months Levi escaped, ascertained what 
had been done with his property, and instantly sent to his brother 
Ethan a challenge to fight a duel with pistols. Ethan seems to have taken 
no notice of the challenge, except to say that "it would be disgraceful to 
fight with a Tory," whereupon Levi wrote a sarcastic letter apologizing for 
his brother's timidity. He immediately escaped from Connecticut, joined 
the British army in South Carolina, and remained in their ranks till the 
declaration of peace in 1783. He then returned to Connecticut, to collect 
some debts which were owing him, but was not pleasantly received, where- 
upon he declared that he had been insulted and would never again live in 
the United States. He went to Canada, bought a house in Montreal, and 
lived there four years, during which he organized some commercial ventures 
with England. While in London looking after his interests, he got into a 
quarrel with Major Edward Jessup, of the British army, and challenged him 
to fight a duel. Jessup declined, whereupon Allen posted him as a poltroon. 
Levi Allen liked England no better than America, and came home after three 
or four years of wandering, made his way to Burlington, Vt., and announced 
himself a citizen of the world. He had acquired considerable property, not 

30 Fifty Years in Camp and Field 

was still in captivity, they moved to Sunderland, Vt., where 
he rejoined them in 1778. Mrs. Allen died there in 1783.^ 
The children were taken to Burlington in 1789,^ where their 
father had already married his second wife, a widow named 
Fanny Buchanan. Ethan Allen's children were: First wife's; 

only in Vermont and Canada, but in South Carolina. During the next few 
years he met with important financial reverses, was arrested for debt, and 
thrust into the Burlington jail, where he died in the fall of 1801. Under 
that interpretation of the law which affirms that the removal of the body of 
the debtor, dead or alive, transferred the debt, the village graveyard was sur- 
veyed and "laid out" before his burial, so that he might be interred within, 
the limits of the jail. He was the first person buried there and no stone 
has ever marked his grave. 

Ira was fourteen years younger than his oldest brother Ethan, and was 
born in Cornwall. He got such knowledge as the plain district schools of 
Connecticut could confer, and became a forceful writer on politics and 
history. He also learned surveying and practised the art in Litchfield 
County. He joined his brothers in Vermont before he was of age and became 
a Lieutenant in Colonel Seth Warner's regiment during the Revolution. He 
was a member of the Vermont Legislature in 1776-7, and also of the Con- 
stitutional Convention. Although but twenty-six years old, and the young- 
est member of the convention, he persistently urged the raising of another 
regiment. To prove to him the impracticability of the plan he was appointed 
a committee of one to devise means to pay, equip, and keep it in the field. 

» Mary Allen was an excellent woman. She died at Sunderland and 
the following lines on her tomb were written by Ethan Allen — evidently 
the expression of a devout and serious minded deist; 

"Farewell, my friends, this fleeting world adieu, 

My residence no longer is with you. 

My children I commend to Heaven's care. 

And humbly raise my hopes above despair; 

And conscious of a virtuous transient strife, 

Anticipate the joys of the next life; 

Yet such celestial and ecstatic bliss 

Is but in part conferred on us in this. 

Confiding in the power of Heaven most high. 

His wisdom, goodness, and infinity, 

Displayed, securely I resign my breath 

To the cold unrelenting stroke of death ; 

Trusting that God, Who gave me life before 

Will still preserve me in a state much more 

Exalted mentally — beyond decay. 

In the blest regions of eternal day. " 
2 Burlington was at this time not even a village. As late as 1791 there 
were only three houses there, and two years later there were only seven 
frame dwellings; but it was "on the road from Montreal to Boston," and in 
1793 it was visited by Prince Edward, Duke of Kent, the father of Queen 


The Allen Brothers 31 

— Lorrain, Joseph, Lucy Caroline, Mary Ann, and Pamela; 
second wife's: — Ethan Voltaire, Hannibal, and Fanny. The 
services of Ethan Allen were recognized by this country in the 
education of the two last named sons at West Point during 
the first four years of its existence. They both served as 

Next morning he brought in a measure to confiscate the property of Tories 
for that purpose. It was adopted and the regiment was enlisted It is 
said that this was the first confiscation enforced during the Revolution. He 
was the first Secretary of the State, then Treasurer, then Surveyor-General. 
He was Commissioner to Congress in behalf of Vermont in opposition to the 
claims of adjoining States, and in 1789 he started the movement which led to 
the establishment of the University of Vermont and its location at Burling- 
ton. He gave to the university $20,000. During the Revolution he and 
Ethan originated the singular movement having for its ostensible object the 
surrender of Vermont to Great Britain, and its real object the misleading 
of the Canadian authorities for the purpose of preventing their sending an 
army into New England. The negotiations for the surrender of the territory 
to Great Britain were of course conducted secretly, but with the full know- 
ledge and consent of the highest American authorities. Ira Allen also 
originated the project for constructing a ship canal from Lake Champlain 
to the St. Lawrence. In 1795, having become senior Major-General of the 
militia, he went to France and purchased arms for the State of Vermont, 
but on his return voyage he was captured and carried to England, charged 
with furnishing arms to the Irish rebels. He was imprisoned and prosecuted 
and put to great expense in the court of admiralty, where after eight years 
a decision was rendered in his favor. He suffered imprisonment in France 
in 1798 and returned home to the United States in 1801, virtually a bank- 
rupt. He had bought in France 20,000 muskets and 24 cannon and pledged 
for their payment 45,000 acres of the best land in Vermont. In the litiga- 
tion and malicious suits that were brought against him his entire estate, 
valued at more than a million dollars, was lost. The suits brought against 
him in Vermont after he had returned drove him to Philadelphia, where he 
died in poverty and distress in 18 14, in his 63d year, and was buried in the 
potter's field in an unmarked grave. Ira was by far the ablest diplomatist 
and statesman of these remarkable brothers. All his later years the interests 
of the Vermont University were kept close to his heart, and he is regarded 
by its friends with much gratitude. He was a facile and interesting writer 
and the author of The Natural and Political History of Vermont and State- 
ments Appended to the Olive Branch. Two of his volumes were written as a 
complete vindication of his conduct in purchasing ordnance in France for 
which he was so long persecuted. Thompson in his biography of Ira Allen 
speaks of him as "the diplomatist and manager in civil affairs . . , the 
greatest and most successful speculator of the brothers . . . who. with 
his brothers at one time claimed nearly all the lands for fifty miles along Lake 
Champlain . . . who probably did more toward the settlement and interests 
of this part of the country than any other man ... by whose unwearied 
efforts and profuse generosity the Vermont University was located at Burling- 
ton, . . . generally the secretary of that well nigh omnipotent body, the 
Council of Safety . . . who recommended to the Council the confiscation 

32 Fifty Years in Camp and Field 

officers in the United States army, during the War of 1812. 
Fanny became a Catholic and retired to a convent in Montreal, 
where she attracted much unwelcome attention as ** the beauti- 
ful nun." 

of Tory property to support the military forces of the State . . . the chief 
negotiator with the British in Canada by which a large army was kept 
inactive on our northern frontier the last three years of the Revolution." 

Among the multitude of anecdotes of Allen, the following is believed to 
be authentic: 

Immediately after the taking of "old Ti, " while on his way to lay some 
schemes before the Continental Congress, he visited Bennington, where the 
Rev. Mr. Dewey preached before him and other officers a sermon on the 
capture of the fort. In his prayer the preacher with much fervor poured 
forth thanks to the Lord for having given the possession of the important 
fortress into the hands of the patriots. Allen was displeased and as the 
preacher continued, the bluff hero cried out " Parson Dewey! " The reverend 
gentleman did not heed the interruption, and Allen exclaimed still louder 
"Parson Dewey! " As the minister still continued, Allen sprang to his feet 
and roared: "Parson Dewey! Parson Dewey! Please to mention that 
Ethan Allen was there!" 



DURING the Revolutionary decade of excitement and 
struggle the young lawyer, Samuel Hitchcock, was as- 
siduously cultivating his mind and maturing his char- 
acter in Worcester. He was fired with an ambition to make 
the most of himself and early sought to improve his opportu- 
nities by going where lawyers were few. The new colony 
which New Hampshire had long since ceased to claim and New 
York had failed to subdue, and which had already applied for 
admission into the union of American States, seemed to him 
full of promise, and after receiving enthusiastic letters from 
friends who had gone forward to build their homes on the 
shore of Lake Champlain he decided to follow them and make 
his legal knowledge available in a new community. He ac- 
cordingly brought his professional engagements to a close, 
counted up the little money he had earned and saved, and in 
1786 left Worcester for the mysterious region on the farther 
slopes of the northern mountains. 

Vermont, no longer assailed by the Yorkers or the English, 
had attained to something of quiet, but the newcomers were 
still harried and beset by Indians, who were obstinate and 
would not be convinced that they had no right to the home 
of their fathers. Moreover, the grave conflict of charters and 
the incessant quarrels over titles and boundaries, which charac- 
terize every new settlement, gave the young lawyer enough 
to do. He went first to Bennington, and paid his respects 
to the Aliens, already known as the saviours of Vermont and 
its most influential citizens, and received from them a hearty 
welcome. Thence he proceeded up the lake to regions that 

3 33 

34 Fifty Years in Camp and Field 

were almost pathless and uninhabited by white men, and 
near to Winooski on the Onion River he bought a claim and 
built a cabin. From the very first he assumed the place among 
the leaders of opinion to which his education and his knowl- 
edge of jurisprudence entitled him, and made them his friends 
and companions. 

Mr. Hitchcock's services were at once in request, and his 
prosperity became so well assured that in 1789, three years 
after his arrival at the place where now stands the city of 
Burlington, he courted, wedded, and established in his frontier 
home, Lucy Caroline, bom in 1768, the second daughter of the 
famous and wealthy Gen. Ethan Allen, who had removed 
from Bennington to Burlington. ^ The marriage was the 
first recorded in that town. The bride was not only of dis- 
tinguished parentage, but she was a woman of high character, 
rare delicacy and refinement, and great beauty, widely es- 
teemed and beloved. The birth of their first child, Lorrain, 
was also the first birth recorded in Burlington. 2 

Samuel Hitchcock spent in Burlington the first six years 

» The Aliens by this time owned a third of all the vast country between 
Lake Champlain and the Green Mountains, and Ira owned half of Burlington, 
whose site he had originally selected and occupied. In Spooner's Vermont 
Journal, February 3, 1794, side by side with "the latest news from France" 
(being the execution of Queen Marie Antoinette, three months and a half 
before) appears an elaborate displayed advertisement by Ira Allen, begin- 
ning thus: "The subscriber has, in the township of Alburgh, Highgate 
and Swanton, bounding on the Lake Champlain, and in Coventry and 
Irasburgh, contiguous to Lake Mumphramagog, and in other towns in the 
County of Chittenden, more than one hundred thousand acres of land which 
he will lease so long as water runs or timber grows." He offers to lease 
for several years free of rent and "ultimately" for $12 annually for each 
hundred acres. He also has lands for sale in the towns of Charlotte, Shel- 
bume, Burlington, Colchester, Georgia, Williston, New Huntington, Essex, 
Jericho, and Moortown; "also more than two thousand acres of vale or 
meadow land by Onion River"; also a large amount of land to lease in be- 
half of the University of Vermont in various counties. Mr. Allen says 
''Mechanics of every denomination are wanted," and he anticipates the 
homestead laws of the United States by offering, free of charge, ten acres 
of good land to any mechanic who will come and settle on it. He announces 
that saw-mills and grist-mills are being built in various parts of the new State, 
and "a college is established at Burlington Bay and a city building there." 

2 The Aliens may with peculiar propriety be reckoned among the first 
families of Burlington. Ethan Allen's daughter was the first married there, 
his granddaughter the first bom there, and his unfortunate brother Levi 
the first to occupy the village graveyard. 


Welcomed by the Aliens 35 

of his life in the new community, after which he lived ten 
years at Vergennes, a beautiful town on the lake below that 
city, and there several of his children were bom. The remain- 
der of his life was spent at Burlington. 

Gen. Ethan Allen died of apoplexy while crossing an 
arm of Lake Champlain on the ice during the winter of 1 789 — 
the same year in which his daughter was married. He was 
on a load of hay which he had obtained from his cousin. Colonel 
Ebenezer Allen, and on arriving at his home was found to be 
dead. The solemn news of the event made a great sensation. 
His death removed from Vermont her most picturesque and 
heroic figure. For his services he was thanked by a grateful 
Congress and put on half pay for life. His strong arm and 
persistent will had saved the State to its people and the 
Union, and he stood forth among the most commanding of 
the Revolutionary patriots. 

Ethan Allen belonged to a class who are most popular with 
those who know them best and are correspondingly misjudged 
by those who know little of them. He despised the arts by 
which popularity is courted, and those who count him a dema- 
gogue would fail to point out a single word he ever uttered 
or a single act he ever performed to gain popularity or applause. 
He was of large stature, very strong and muscular, capable 
of immense exertion and endurance. He feared nothing 
under the sun. With proper training he would have won 
intellectual eminence. Falsehood and tergiversation were 
so offensive to him that he would not tolerate them even to 
promote his own interests, and he detested injustice of every 
description with all his energy. The love of Hberty was the 
controlling passion of his soul. In the presence of sorrow he. 
was as gentle as a woman. 

The last five years of Ethan Allen's life were employed 
by him in the development of earnest projects for the benefit 
of mankind. His chief effort was for the organization and 
incorporation of a comprehensive society with branches,, 
having for its main object the consideration and study of 
moral philosophy. 

Washington said of him: " His firmness and fortitude seemed 
to have placed him out of reach of misfortune. There is. 
something about him that commands our admiration.'* 

36 Fifty Years in Camp and Field 

Allen wrote to the Congress of the Province of Massa- 
chusetts : 

"Gentlemen, I have to inform you with pleasure unfelt 
before that at the break of day the loth of May, by the 
order of the General Assembly of Connecticut, I took the 
fortress of Ticonderoga by storm." 

Arnold wrote to the Committee of Safety in Boston: ** Colo- 
nel Allen is a proper man to head his own wild people, but 
entirely unacquainted with military service." 

His writings, too, had already attained a wide circulation. 
His meagre schooling, which had not probably occupied more 
than a month or two of his boyhood, was largely reinforced 
and compensated for by a phenomenally active brain and a 
positiveness of conviction which compelled expression. Thus, 
notwithstanding the deficiency of his education, which he 
constantly lamented, he uttered his thoughts with the same 
self-confidence and boldness which were so obvious in his 

In all that he wrote the conscientious assurance that he 
is right, coupled with the broadest tolerance for others, exacts 
respect from even those who reject his conclusions. In the pre- 
face to Reason the Only Oracle of Man, he says, " In my youth 
I was much disposed" to contemplation"; and he adds that 
"though deficient in education," so that he ''had to acquire 
the knowledge of grammar and language from studious appli- 
cation," yet he practised ''scribbling" for many years. He 
says he is conscious that he is not a Christian and does not 

» sparks in his biography of Ethan Allen repeats the much worn story 
that at the death-bed of his daughter he repudiated his views concerning 
religion and the Bible — a story denied by his other children who were pre- 
sent on the occasion. That historian adds, **He was brave, generous, and 
frank, true to his friends, true to his country, consistent and unyielding in 
his purposes, seeking at all times to promote the best interests of mankind. 
He was kind and benevolent, humane and placable." Zadock Thompson, 
the astronomer and author, in his biography of Allen deeply laments the 
General's infidelity, and adds "with regard to the general character of Ethan 
Allen, the conspicuous and commendable traits upon which his fame rests 
were his- unwavering patriotism, his love of freedom, his wisdom, boldness, 
courage, energy, perseverance, his aptitude to command, his ability to 
inspire those under him with respect and confidence, his high sense of honor, 
and probity, and justice, his generosity, and kindness, and sympathy in 
the afflictions and sufferings of others. " 

The First Families 37 

know whether he is a deist or not,^ as he had never read any 
of their writings. 2 He proceeds: 

An apology appears to me to be impertinent in writers who 
venture their works to public inspection, for this obvious reason, 
that if they need it, they should have been stifled in the birth, 
and not permitted a public existence. I therefore offer my com- 
position to the candid judgment of the impartial world without 
it, taking it for granted that I have as good a natural right to expose 
myself to public censure by endeavoring to subserve mankind, 
as any of the species who have published their productions since 
the creation, and I ask no favor at the hands of philosophers, 
divines or critics, but hope and expect they will severely chastise 
me for my errors and mistakes, lest they may have a share in 
perverting the truth, which is very far from my intention. 

This leader of the Green Mountain Boys, the Roderick 
Dhu of our highland woods, was dead when Ethan Allen 
Hitchcock was born in 1798, as were the most conspicuous 
of his captains: living a life of feverish struggle, outlawry, 
and sleepless vigilance and defiance, scarcely one of them 
reached middle life. Therefore it was fated that their famous 
designation of adolescence was never outgrown. They were 
"Boys" to the last. Already Ethan Allen's son-in-law, the 
ambitious young lawyer, Samuel Hitchcock, had begun to 
make an impression upon the new community, and had not 
only composed many of its private quarrels and contests 

» In the diary of the subject of this biography is the following: "My 
grandfather was not hostile to religion, but he labored under the imputation 
of being so, because he was offended with the mode of preaching around him 
and was too honest to conceal his opinions. His volume was merely the 
attempt of a strong natural mind to oppose what appeared artificial and 
unessential in religion, and therefore absurd as a foundation of faith and 
hope. Religion is one thing; the preaching of it is quite another; and when 
the preaching of religion is absurd, or appears so to men who see no reason 
why they should not have an opinion in what concerns them so nearly, it 
is very apt to rouse a spirit of opposition which never fails to be stigmatized 
as infidelity by the stronger party, when, nevertheless, the reputed infidel 
may be the true man, as was the case with Socrates and with a greater than 
Socrates. Why should any one be called irreligious for protesting against a 
mode of preaching which virtually denies or dethrones God by picturing in 
His stead His cloven-footed enemy?" 

■2 It should be remembered that Allen's Oracles was written and printed 
ten years before Paine's A^^^ of Reason, and before Franklin had published his 
deistical arguments and Jefferson had come home from France and announced 
that "Human reason is sufficient for the conduct of human affairs." 

38 Fifty Years in Camp and Field 

but had entered its official service. He was appointed County 
Attorney in 1787. In 1790, he was elected to the Legislature 
and re-elected for five years, meantime serving also as Attor- 
ney-General of the State. He took an important part in 
drafting the new State Constitution, was a delegate to the 
convention which ratified it, and was a presidential elector 
under it, giving to General Washington the vote of thfe State 
for his second term as President. 

He was appointed a District Judge by President Washing- 
ton, and Circuit Judge by President Adams. On the death 
of the Father of his Coimtry Judge Hitchcock was summoned 
to deliver the public eulogy before a large and solemn con- 
course of the people. Meantime he had interested himself 
deeply in education, and when the rich Ira Allen secured the 
location of the State University at Burlington and arranged 
a liberal endowment for it, Judge Hitchcock drafted its val- 
uable charter and was one of its trustees till his death. Doctor 
Wheeler, in his historical discourse, says "The University 
owed much of its early prosperity to the reflective and pro- 
foimd mind of Judge Hitchcock." He was largely endowed 
with benevolence and possessed admirable social qualities. He 
had polished manners and a suave and agreeable address, 
and was distinguished in his generation by a good-natured 
humor and brilliant repartee, both in conversation and at 
the bar. He had a light complexion and keen blue eyes, 
and Ms personal appearance was dignified and commanding. 
At the time of his death, November 30, 18 13, at the age of 
fifty-eight, he was one of the most highly esteemed men in 
the State and one of the foremost lawyers of New England. 
General Grandey, an acquaintance, says in a letter, ' ' Judge 
Hitchcock was a man of a high stamp of character in all re- 
spects — Si leading and controlling mind among the strong and 
original minds of his day." 

Judge Hitchcock and his wife had eight children of whom 
two died in infancy. Those who became adults were: Lor- 
rain Allen, bom June 11, 1790, died April 22, 181 5 ; Henry, bom 
Sept. II, 1792, died Aug. 11, 1839; Mary Ann, bom June 3, 
1796, died Sept. 16, 1825; Ethan Alle^^, bom May 18, 1798, 
died Aug. 5, 1870; Pamela Caroline, bom May 20,1805, died 
Sept. 9, 1822; Samuel, bom May 2, 1808, died Aug. i, 1851. 





OF the childhood of Ethan Allen Hitchcock we know little, 
nor is such knowledge essential to the purpose of this 
work. He was bom in a tumultuous time, and when he 
was old enough to go to school to his older brother Henry, the 
daring feats of their grandfather and his brothers were the 
choicest stock of the gray-haired story-tellers of the vicinity. 
These vivid reminiscences, rehearsed by one or two of the 
bold actors still surviving, made a deep impression on the im- 
agination of the lad, and very likely influenced his choice of 
a profession. In 1813, he was a student at an academy at 
Randolph, Vermont. During that year his father died and it 
became necessary for him to decide upon an occupation at once. 
It was at first attempted to get for young Ethan a clerk- 
ship in some Boston store, but his sister Lorrain wrote from 
that city in 18 14 that the war with Great Britain, then pro- 
gressing, had caused hard times and a mercantile career was 
therefore unpromising. It was suggested that he follow her 
husband,- Major Peters, into the military service, and enter 
the army through West Point. To this she wrote to him 
warm approval, saying, "I have become quite a soldier myself, 
and should be rather an advocate for your becoming one of 
us. Upon my word, I think Brother Ethan would make a 
very pretty little officer, — one that we should be quite proud 
of." She added that her husband would interest himself 
to procure the appointment if possible. 

The following letter shows how earnestly Major Peters 
interested himself: 


40 Fifty Years in Camp and Field 

Boston, Sept. — 1814. 
To THE Honorable Secretary op War, 

Sir: — A lad by the name of Ethan A. Hitchcock, residing at 
Burlington, Vermont, is extremely anxious to enter the Military 
Academy at West Point, with the object of embracing the pro- 
fession of arms for life; and his friends are desirous that he should 
be gratified. Being personally and intimately acquainted with 
this young gentleman, I take the liberty of naming him to you as 
really worthy of that distinction. He is about sixteen years of 
age, has a good English education, and understands the Latin 
language — is well bred, extremely correct in his moral habits, 
possesses strict ideas of honor and integrity and a sufficient degree 
of talents and enterprise to render him useful and respectable in 
the service of his country. He is a son of the late Honorable 
Samuel Hitchcock, formerly one of the Judges of the United States 
Circuit Court, and grandson of the late General Ethan Allen, 
famous in the revolutionary war, whose name he bears, and whose 
fame he is disposed to emulate. With a strong desire to perpet- 
uate the respectability of my profession, and firmly believing that 
this young man will do honor to his country's service, I have the 
honor to request his appointment as a particular favor granted me. 

With high respect 
I am, Sir, 

Your obedient servant, 
George P. Peters. 

Asst. Adjt. General.^ 
Honorable James Monroe, 
Secretary of the War Department. 

Within a month Major Peters was enabled to send to his 
young brother-in-law the following salutation and judicious 
council : 

Boston, Oct. 17, 1814. 
Dear Ethan, 

I am happy to have it in my power to enclose you here- 
with an appointment as a cadet in the army of the U. S. If 
you accept it you had better proceed as soon as convenient to West 

» Major George P. Peters was a cadet in December, 1807, and while com- 
manding his company at the battle of Tippecanoe, Nov. 7, 181 1, was dis- 
tinguished for bravery and was wounded. He was again wounded at 
Maguago, Aug. 9, 1812, and became subsequently Assistant Adjutant- 
General, with the rank of Major. He died in Florida in 18 19, aged thirty 

Major Peters's Wise Advice 41 

Point in order to get acquainted there before the vacation which 
will take place on the 15th December and last till the 15th of 
March. It is usual for many of the Cadets to remain during the 
vacation and continue their studies. I would advise you to do so 
this winter. Excuse me for the liberty I take in giving you advice. 
You are going among strangers and may find some of it beneficial. 
You will find a great variety of characters at the Academy but 
generally high minded young men and some of them quarrelsome 
and extremely tenacious of their honor. The best way to get along 
with them all without difficulty is to mind only your own business, 
treat all with politeness and be cautious of forming particular 
friendships with any till you have learnt their characters and find 
them correct in their habits. You will probably find some who 
may be inclined to dissipation who may wish you to associate 
with them in what they call high scrapes: never offend them but 
by all means avoid them ; let them go on in their own way while you 
can find better associates (for there are some very fine young 
gentlemen at the Academy) but do not acquire the character of a 
tell-tale; if you once get that character they will all despise you 
while on the contrary if you mind your own business and apply 
yourself to your studies you will command respect even from those 
who take an opposite course. Do not infer from what I have said 
that I have any doubt of your maintaining a good character, for 
be assured I have the utmost confidence in your judgment and 
discretion. But you are young and unacquainted with the world 
and I think it my duty to inform you of every difficulty which 
you will have to encounter. I shall enclose you a letter of intro- 
duction to Capt. Partridge, Professor of Engineering. Anything 
else within my power I will do with pleasure. 

Sincerely your friend and brother 
George P. Peters. 
Cadet E. A. Hitchcock. 

Major Peters knew the necessity of good advice. He had 
been four years at West Point and eight years in the army 
afterwards. He knew what incongruous materials made up 
the army of 181 4. His young brother-in-law did not know 
it till later, when he entered in his diary the following record — 
an unconscious testimonial to the moral stamina which lifted 
Major Peters above the level of his fellows: 

**The war with England in 181 2 brought into the army 
a body of newly appointed officers of all grades who had 
scarcely been selected at all. They were men of all profes- 

42 Fifty Years in Camp and Field 

sions and occupations, including many who were aptly called 
'idle dependants upon respectable connections/ They were 
of all ages, and were appointed without regard to what may 
be called natural precedence, by which a man, mature in years 
and experience, has what may be called a right to take rank 
over a youth, especially when the latter lacks intelligence 
and education. The consequence was that when these heter- 
ogeneous materials came together, nearly all of them alike 
ignorant of the profession of arms, there were great confusion, 
disorder and quarrelling, and there w^as not enough stability 
or character among the officers of what may be called * the old 
army' to act as a wholesome restraint on the new officers, 
or by example to bring the shapeless mass into anything like 
symmetry. In some cases an infirm man would be in com- 
mand of young and lively officers, and in others a mere in- 
experienced youth would be in command of aged subalterns. 
From ignorance and maladjustment came ntimberless duels, 
till an officer could scarcely consider himself entitled to re- 
spectability till he had been engaged in one. With all this, 
most of the officers were dissipated in the worst sense of that 
word: profane, indecent, and licentious, and very many of 
them drunkards. Such men seemed perfectly reckless as to 
how they lived or what they said or did. A bottle of liquor 
was always in view on every officer's table or sideboard and 
was put into requisition at all hours of the day and night by 
groups of officers who seldom indulged in rational conversa- 
tion or showed any disposition to gather around themselves 
the graces and amenities of cultivated life. 

"When the war closed, a selection was attempted to be 
made from among these officers to constitute the authorized 
Peace Establishment of 1815; but the leaven of evil had 
spread so far and wide that the character of the Peace Estab- 
lishment did not materially differ from that of the War Estab- 
lishment out of which it had proceeded. It is by no means 
to be overlooked, however, that, notwithstanding the general 
character of the officers of war time, there came out from among 
them some of the brightest names that adorn our country's 
history — ^to the infinite honor of officers who stoutly resisted 
the evil influences to which they were constantly exposed. " 

It is not too much to say that the young cadet profited 

The Young Lieutenant 43 

by Major Peters's shrewd advice. The testimony of Ethan 
Allen Hitchcock's classmates is unanimous as to his correct 
deportment, his great diligence in study, and his unusual 
acquirements. That the testimony was correct is obvious 
from the circumstance that while still a cadet he was called 
upon to teach his class. From his early diary is quoted the 
following: *' During my last year's study at West Point, 
Captain Crozet, ^ who had been a French officer under Napoleon, 
came to the Military Academy as a Professor, and introduced 
there a new science — ^that of descriptive geometry, with its 
application to shades and shadows. I requested and obtained 
permission to add it to my other studies, and to attend the 
recitations of the class junior to mine. I was particularly 
delighted with the new method; and, being fortunate to at- 
tract the special attention of Captain Crozet, I was enabled 
by his assistance to pursue this study in advance of the class, 
and before the end of the year was appointed to act as an 
Assistant Professor of Engineering, and assisted Captain 
Crozet in teaching the subject to the class with which I had 
commenced the study of it. " 

Captain Partridge, in command at the Military Academy, 
reported to the Secretary of War, that young Hitchcock had 
*'been of great service" as an assistant instructor. 

Cadet Hitchcock was graduated from West Point July 17, 
181 7, and was named to be a Third Lieutenant of Artillery. 
The diary, begun at a somewhat later date and faithfully 
continued for half a century, covers this period : 

*'My cadet's warrant was dated the nth of October, 1814, 

» Claude Crozet was born near Lyons, France, in 1790. He graduated 
with distinction at the Polytechnic School at Paris and in 1809, joined 
Napoleon in the field in time to participate in the battle of Wagram. He 
was in the army for two years, became captain under Ney, and received 
the cross of the Legion of Honor from the Emperor's hand. On the retreat 
from Moscow he was captured and for two years was a prisoner of war. 
On his release he joined Napoleon on his return from Elba, and after Water- 
loo he fled to America, bringing letters from Lafayette which secured him an 
appointment as professor of mathematics and engineering at West Point. 
In 1824, he resigned on account of ill health, and thenceforth for forty years 
his ability was directed to the development of engineering works in Virginia, 
Mississippi, and Louisiana. He died in Richmond in 1864. Among the 
least important but best known of his services were those rendered in building 
the Aqueduct Bridge that now spans the Potomac at Washington. 

44 Fifty Years in Camp and Field 

if I remember rightly, and I reached West Point in just one 
month from that date. From the time I entered the Academy I 
continued my studies until I was graduated, not availing 
myself of any leave of absence — but this was because I had 
not the means of travelling even to Vermont. I was not sorry, 
for I was fond of study, particularly of mathematics. I 
passed through the whole course prescribed at that day — 
except French, there being no teacher of it — in less than 
three years, acting during the last year as an assistant teacher, 
first of military drawing and then of engineering. I was so 
anxious to extend my studies that, when a rumor reached us 
from Washington that my class was about to be commissioned, 
I petitioned the Superintendent that I might be excepted, 
and allowed to remain another year at the Academy. This 
is probably the only instance of that kind that has happened 
at that Institution, for the young gentlemen are generally 
very anxious to throw aside their dry text-books in favor of 
the equipments and duties of an officer. But I was obliged 
to receive my commission with the rest of the class. There 
was no merit roll made of the class, and we took rank in the 
army according to the dates of our warrants,^ which placed 
me next to the foot on the list. I have often thought that 
the roll should have been reversed; for there were some in 
the class who had been five years in the Academy. " 

The young Lieutenant now took a vacation and with his 
mother and sisters made a visit by sea to his brother Henry, 
who had become a lawyer and had settled at Mobile, Alabama, 
the year before. 

Henry, the eldest son of Judge Samuel Hitchcock, had 
come perilously near following the distinguished Aliens into 
the army. While he was studying law in 1814, he offered his 
services to the State and proposed to raise a regiment for the 
front. The proposition was favorably considered by the 
government, but was never realized owing to the sudden close 
of the war with England. 

The convenience of Lieutenant Hitchcock seems to have 
been considered, for he was assigned to the command of a 

> Until John M. Washington, Hitchcock's immediate successor, there 
was no class rank at the Academy, graduates being numbered by date of 

The Young Lieutenant 45 

small garrison of twenty men at the old Fort Bowyer, at Mobile 
Point, in what is now the heart of the city of Mobile. It was 
here that the British had been repelled and disastrously de- 
feated by General Jackson three years before. At Fort 
Bowyer the young officer devised a method of flushing and 
improving the harbor of Mobile by means of jetties — ^the 
substitution of long rows of piles for the ineffective dredging 
then in use. It was the very scheme of deepening the chan- 
nel by narrowing it which was afterwards introduced suc- 
cessfully by Eads at the mouth of the Mississippi. An 
elaborate explanation of it was sent to the War Department, 
but no attention was paid to it. Here the Lieutenant remained 
during the winter of 181 7-1 8; but he was restless and am- 
bitious, and when Jackson came to Florida in March "to 
punish the Seminoles," and Major Peters, on the way to join 
him with his company of artillery, was detained opposite 
Mobile Point fifteen days by a head wind, young Hitchcock, 
now^ promoted to Second Lieutenant, applied most earnestly 
to the War Department for permission to join the expedition 
with his brother-in-law. His application was refused and 
Peters went on without him, to die the next year at Fort 

During the succeeding winter Hitchcock was transferred 
to New Orleans. He had come to entertain serious thoughts 
of resigning and studying law with his brother Henry in 
Mobile. But this intention was interfered with by his sudden 
promotion to be First Lieutenant and Adjutant of the 8th 
Infantry. 2 

Early in the spring of 1819, he returned to the north, 
encountering a terrible storm off Hatteras. "I left Phila- 
delphia," he says in his diary, "at twelve M/ May 4, and, 
riding all night in post-coaches, arrived in New York City at 
eleven next day," having ridden twenty-three hours. He 
visited West Point and proceeded on to Burlington, which 
he had not seen for nearly five years. At his old home every- 
thing was changed. Not only his father was dead, but his 
loving sister, Lorrain, and her husband, and his old friends 
and companions were widely scattered. His sojourn at the 
home of his childhood was brief and sad. 

> February 13, i8i8. 2 October 31, 1818. 

46 Fifty Years in Camp and Field 

Already the young soldier had discovered an inquiring 
turn of mind, prophetic of the philosopher he ultimately 
became. In his diary he says: 

"I was nearly two years in anxiety because I found myself 
compelled to doubt. ... I suffered a great deal of mental 
pain because of that state of things. I had been taught to 
think it a sin to doubt anything in the Scripture, and yet I 
was compelled to disbelieve such stories as Jonah and the 
whale, the speaking of Balaam's ass, &c. ** 

Later he discovered to his satisfaction that there was a 
mixture of history, fable, allegory, and error in the Scriptures. 
But now he was inquisitive, uneasy and restless, and desirous 
**to know what a certain class of men called philosophers 
thought of God and man and life.** So he read Paley; then 
Reid; then Hume. About this time he began to read quite 
promiscuously — Gray's poems," Doctor Johnson's solemn say- 
ings," Moore's melodies, some French books, a new history 
of England, Young's Night Thoughts, and more of Reid, and 
meditated and speculated much thereon. 

During the winter of 1819, he went South again, as stipu- 
lated via West Point, New York, Washington, Richmond, 
Charleston, Augusta, and Mobile, starting November 20th 
and reaching New Orleans February 2d. He rode alone 
on horseback from Augusta to Mobile through the Creek 
coimtry, swimming unbridged rivers, and sailed thence to 
his destination in a schooner. His brother Henry was now 
Secretary of State of Alabama, and he saw him at Cahaba on 
his way. From New Orleans Lieutenant Hitchcock joined the 
commander of his regiment. Colonel Clinch, and rode up and 
down through the Choctaw nation, assisting in opening a 
government road between Nashville and New Orleans, ''sleep- 
ing in strange places and fashions and often seeing and hearing 
wolves," and in July joined his regiment, the 8th Infantry, 
under command of its Lieutenant-Colonel, Zachary Taylor, 
at Bay St. Louis, sixty or seventy miles east of New Orleans. 
Under Taylor he assumed his duties as Adjutant, and began 
a friendship which continued for many years. He rode on 
military service through adjoining states, but on the whole 
his life at Bay St. Louis was uneventful. 

Here he "read with care Hume's History of England.'* 


The Young Lieutenant 47 

Diary: **It was about the only book that Col. Taylor had 
read and he was fond of revising his reading and then coming 
to my hut to talk it over. He was then very friendly with 
me. Indeed, he would have done anything in his power to 
oblige me, and this disposition continued faithfully until he 
found me in the staff of Gen. Scott as Acting Inspector-General 
in the campaign to the city of Mexico. " 

In the fall of 1821, the army was reduced, and the 8th 
Regiment of infantry was merged into other regiments, so 
that Hitchcock lost his position as Adjutant and from being 
first on the list of First Lieutenants in that regiment, became 
the third on the list in the ist Infantry, to which he was 
transferred . In November the regiment went to Baton Rouge. 
Of this period he wrote: 

**My recollections of Baton Rouge are not pleasant. Col- 
onel Chambers was in command, with a fop of an adjutant, 
both ignorant and conceited. Some thirty idle officers were 
present for a number of months, a majority of them dissipated 
men without education. They had no refinement of any sort 
and no taste for study. The general talk was of duels- — of 
what this one said and that one threatened. Many a time 
have I taken a small volume in my pocket, started into the 
woods and remained a whole day, for no other purpose than 
to be out of hearing of profanity, ribaldry, and blustering 

He had ways of his own. He wrote to his mother : 

**I have just read a troublesome visitor out of my tent, 
so now I have time to write to you. It was not a very civil 
mode of entertainment to make use of a book, but I knew that 
if I suffered my visitor to gratify himself by talking, I should 
be troubled with him all of the evening. To prevent this, I 
took up a volume of Shakspeare and pretended to interest 
him. He soon became tmeasy and withdrew." 

During 1822 and 1823, he spent much of his time on recruit- 
ing service. He travelled about the country and then to 
New York and finally to Boston, where he tarried, still re- 
cruiting for the army. He read a good deal during these 
years and indulged much in introspection. 



LIEUTENANT HITCHCOCK was a man of practical 
affairs when called to positions of responsibility, but he 
was essentially a student. He was ambitious to master 
all branches of knowledge, and all his life he strove to make 
himself somewhat acquainted with the contents of every book 
within his reach. He studied the army regulations and mili- 
tary tactics with untiring avidity, and he became so thoroughly 
a master of movements and evolutions that during parades 
and reviews his assistance was frequently sought by his supe- 
riors in rank. Even when he was engaged in the mechanical 
business of recruiting, his efficiency as a drill-master was 
widely recognized and commented on in the army. This was 
the cause of his being invited to become a teacher at West 
Point. Years later he writes of this time as follows : 

''The Military Academy at West Point was then under 
the superintendence of Major Thayer, one of the most accom- 
plished officers and one of the most finished gentlemen of the 
army. I have always looked upon a visit there at this time 
as one of the most fortimate events of my life. The Military 
Commandant of Cadets and Instructor of Tactics at the time 
of my visit was Major, afterwards General Worth, whose 
military bearing in the presence of troops filled the very ideal 
of a gallant soldier in the field. To young and impulsive 
natures designed for the military profession. Major Worth 
was by far the most captivating man, while graver men could 
easily see in Major Thayer deeper and more valuable qualities 
which made him an object of enthusiastic admiration. 


Instructor at the Academy 49 

** During many years the Military Academy owed to Major 
Thayer nearly all of its reputation. He was very systematic, 
and perfectly imiform and impartial in the enforcement of 
discipline. With all his great qualifications there was a slight 
tincture of humility amoimting to bashfulness which was 
concealed from general observation by a certain assumed air 
of dignity which he was always accustomed to wear on official 
occasions, alike in the presence of professors and cadets, and 
which was relaxed — and that very slightly — only with those 
of his officers who he knew wotild not approach him with 
any selfish or sinister purpose. His character, on the whole, 
was entitled to sincere admiration, but I might not have 
become acquainted with it had I not won the attention — 
though without seeking it — of Major Worth upon the occa- 
sion of my visit. 

**I had not thought of applying for duty at the Military 
Academy, but it was presently intimated to me at Boston 
that Major Worth desired to call me to his department, as a 
subordinate officer.^ To this I assented and was soon after- 
wards ordered to report at the Military Academy for duty. 
I did so, reaching West Point in midwinter, Jan. 31, 1824.'* 

When Lieutenant Hitchcock thus returned to West Point 
his yoimger brother, Samuel, was a cadet there. Duty at 
the Military Academy is a somewhat solitary and monotonous 
service, and the Lieutenant was forced into much reading of 
books and such thought and meditation as they suggested. 
He indulged in speculations about life and the will ; concluded 
that he was something of a necessarian; read Bacon's works, 
Hume's essays, and Scott's novels. In many of the recreations 
and diversions of the yoimg men about him he found little 
pleasure. Of this winter he says in a later diary : 

/*I had no fancy for formal dinners or evening parties, 
especially dinner parties, where a chief object seemed to be to 
bring out a dozen different kinds of wine, bottle by bottle, of 
each of which there must be a long accoimt given, setting forth 
its history, the date of vintage, date of importation, date of 
bottling &c., &c. I used to get weary beyond description at 
such parties, and longed for the open air ; and when free my 

» Assistant Instructor of Tactics. 

50 Fifty Years in Camp and Field 

desire to be learning something would come back upon me. 
I fell to reading and study and in a few months had ransacked 
a considerable number of books, including most of the stand- 
ard English poetry, sending to England for a copy of Chaucer.'* 

This spring he reads Montesquieu, Kames, Montholon's 
Memoirs of Napoleon, Burke, Hegel, Percival, Dugald Stewart, 
Thomas Brown, and Tacitus. 

"April 23, '24. Was so much affected by music at a 
concert in the evening that I was obliged to leave the hall. 
Music has often overcome me." 

**July 27. Arrival at West Point of Genera J Macomb. 
Knows both the importance and the nonsense of the show 
part of military life. Always gets up handsome reviews and 
turns them into fim with his intimates." 

"August 17. At reception of General Lafayette. In 
taking the General by the hand it occurs to me that he will 
take the hand of many a scoimdrel before he gets out of the 

The Lieutenant visited Boston again during this summer 
and saw some distinguished people: "Went to Quincy, to 
pay my respects to ex-President John Adams — a silver-haired 
old man with a large round head, well balanced, apparently. 
He was a man of strong passions. John Q. was present. 
Heard Channing, " whom he admired greatly. Of this time he 
wrote years afterwards : 

" I can never forget the joy with which I mingled with the 
young assistant professors of the Academy, all of whom were 
graduates of high standing in their classes. The amount of 
culture among them was considerable; their conversation was 
enlightened — ^turning upon subjects of science and literature — 
in the greatest possible contrast to that with which I had been 
associated more or less during the five years in which — ^as I 
might say- — I had been out in the world. It was something 
like a transition from earth to Heaven, and the contrast made 
a deep impression upon me. Prior to this experience I had 
felt an indefinable want in the service — a. secret dissatisfaction 
with what I was compelled to see and come in contact with, 
without knowing where to look for a remedy. I found it at 
West Point, where the young officers were amiable and stu- 
dious and of lovely manners and conversation. There was 

Promoted to Captaincy 51 

no rough, rude boisterousness among them; no profanity, 
and not the shghtest tendency to any sort of dissipation. 
This was what I had wanted, and I at once entered upon con- 
genial studies, and passed several years in so uniform a life 
that as I look backward I am scarcely able to distinguish 
one year from another. '* 

In January, 1825, Lieutenant Hitchcock received his 
promotion to the rank of Captain. This notable advance in 
the honors of his profession was perhaps received with satis- 
faction, but we have no sign of it, for in the diaries is the 
record, *'I was sad, and felt myself in the rearward of life, 
^ly duties were simple and easily performed. They did not 
tax my faculties at all, and I felt equal to something beyond 
them. *' On the application of Colonel Thayer, Superintendent, 
and Major Worth, Military Commandant of the corps of 
cadets, the War Department consented that he should remain 
on duty at the Academy. In the intervals of occupation he 
corresponded with the poet Percival and read durmg the win- 
ter Sir Thomas Browne's Religio Medici, Hobbes, Colton, 
Lucretius, and Franklin's w^orks. He made voluminous notes 
in speculative philosophy and metaphysics, and arrived at 
this definition of God: "The great Whole is one, and all 
the parts agree with all the parts. *' He records ''determined 
to regard myself impersonally — ^that is, as an impartial obser- 
ver. At times I was under great excitement , though externally 
as quiet as a child. I was constantly inquiring of myself 
about myself. '* 

These meditations were interrupted by an occurrence of 
prime importance. 



THE significance and result of this occurrence are in- 
dicated in the following careftilly prepared statement 
by the chief actor : 
"My service at West Point was interrupted in 1827 by 
an event which threw me out of the Academy. It occurred 
in this manner: When Major Thayer first took the Superin- 
tendency of the Academy the War Department gave him 
authority to dismiss cadets upon his own individual order, 
to enable him to reduce them to subordination and attention 
to studies. After thus introducing order to the Academy, 
the power of arbitrary dismission was surrendered and no 
longer exercised. Then the Major thought it would aid him 
in the maintenance of discipline to have the power given him 
to order Courts of Inquiry — such courts being authorized by 
the 91st and 92nd Articles of War. For this purpose he drew 
up what was called an Academic Regulation, giving him the 
power he desired. This he carried to Washington and there 
obtained the signature of James Barbour, the Secretary of 
War. The Secretary being a civilian, and having little know- 
ledge, perhaps, of the Articles of War, was without doubt 
entirely ignorant of the concluding paragraph of the 92nd 
Article which limits the power of ordering Courts of Inquiry, 
prohibiting them when not applied for by the accused party 
or ordered by the President of the United States. The Secre- 
tary of War had no right imder the law to sign the Academic 


Conflict of Authority over Courts of Inquiry 53 

Regulation referred to, giving to Major Thayer the power to 
order Courts of Inquiry upon his own discretion. 

**The Superintendent held this order unpublished for some 
time without making any use of it ; but in the Spring of 1827 
a disorder occurred in the cadets' barracks, the authors of 
which Major Thayer was unable to discover by ordinary 
means and he determined to try a Court of Inquiry. Accord- 
ingly he issued his order, appointing a court with a Judge 
Advocate, and I was named as the senior officer of it. The 
reception of the order gave me the first knowledge I had of 
the Academic Regulation, and I no sooner read it than I was 
painfully struck with the idea that a conflict was on hand, 
for I was well aware of the prohibitory clause in the 92 nd 
Article of War. 

*'The Court met the following morning at ten o'clock; 
but the moment the officers assembled it was seen that each 
one of us, without any consultation, had the same opinion. 
We all felt that the order of Major Thayer was illegal; that 
he had not the power and that the Secretary of War himself 
could not give him the power to order a Court of Inquiry. 
The law was too plain to be mistaken, and we thought that 
it would only be necessary to address the Superintendent 
a letter, briefly stating our objections to proceeding to business 
under his orders and thereupon further attempt to enforce the 
order would be abandoned. We accordingly signed such a 
letter, not as a Court, but as so many officers assembled under 
the Superintendent's orders. In this letter, however, we made 
no direct reference to the 92nd Article of War, thinking it too 
well known to require it. We merely stated that we felt the 
want of sufficient authority to proceed under his order. 

*This letter was sent to General Macomb, Chief Engineer 
and Inspector of the Military Academy, through whom its 
business was done at the seat of government. After about 
three weeks, the Superintendent issued another order requiring 
the Court to assemble in obedience to the first order, and it 
was directed that a letter from General Macomb should be 
read to the Court, after which the Court would proceed to 
business imder the order. We reassembled and the letter 
from General Macomb was read to us. General Macomb 
acknowledged the receipt of the protest against proceeding 

54 Fifty Years in Camp and Field 

under the order of Major Thayer, and went on to say that 
the protest had been laid before the Secretary of War and the 
Attorney General of the United States, and that they had 
decided that the order for the Court was legal; and Major 
Thayer was authorized, if he thought it necessary, to reas- 
semble the Court, to make known the decision of the Secre- 
tary and the Attorney General, and to require the Court to 
proceed to business. 

**When we first assembled we thought that the matter 
wotdd be ended without going beyond Major Thayer, and 
did not attach much importance to it. We now saw that we 
should be obliged to come into collision with two of the highest 
functionaries of the government on a point of law — one of 
whom w^as the law officer of the government, the other all 
powerful in the selection of officers for duty in the Military 

*' We did not hesitate, however. We felt that we were in 
the right and were not at liberty to compromise matters, — 
much less to obey an order, touching the rights of persons, 
which we clearly saw was directly in the teeth of a wise pro- 
hibitory provision of the law. We therefore drew up a second 
letter or protest, reciting the law itself, and then respectfully 
expressing our opinion that we could not legally proceed to 
business. In the evening of that day, three of the four 
officers who signed the protest were placed under arrest, — the 
yotmgest officer of the four not being included in the order for 

*'This was the first time that I had ever been arrested in 
the service, and I was somewhat fretted by it, because I felt 
as competent to form an opinion upon the subject as my super 
riors in rank. I felt also that this was precisely an occasion 
upon which an intelligent officer was required to hold and to 
act upon an independent opinion — ^the Army Regulations of 
that day requiring invariable obedience to orders with one 
specific exception — the exception being * whenever the orders 
are not manifestly against law or reason.* In this case the 
order was against both law and reason, the law itself being 
plainly written and a sufficient reason for it being near at 
hand. The next morning Major Thayer sent for me in order 
to say that his action in the matter had been purely official, 

Defies Superintendent and Secretary of War 55 

and he desired me so to consider it. I told him that of course 
I could look at it in no other light. 

"We remained in arrest a few weeks when an order was 
received from the War Department relieving us from duty 
in the Military Academy, and sending us to our several regi- 
ments. Now, indeed, I felt aggrieved and outraged. I had 
expected to be brought before a Court Martial and had prepared 
myself for a triumphant defence, — intending to lay before the 
Court the law itself with the full and ample reason for it, and 
then to show the insufficiency of the order with suitable com- 
ments upon the necessity, — and even the supreme duty — 
imposed upon subordinates to obstruct all attempts to exercise 
arbitrary power in violation of the clear provisions of law; 
and I intended to enlarge upon the distinction between persons 
and things, by which an officer might strain a point of law 
in obedience to an order when it affected things merely and 
admitting of remedy in case of wrong, which compliance would 
not be allowable in the case of persons, a wrong against whom 
might not admit of remedy. 

"I had hitherto been an Assistant Instructor of Tactics 
in the department of Major Worth, and now, finding myself 
suddenly relieved from a duty filled by selection, and ordered 
to the extreme frontier, — ^the company of which I was then the 
Captain being on duty at Fort Snelling, the highest station 
on the Mississippi River, three htmdred miles above any 
settlement, — I felt very much incensed at the order. I saw 
clearly that the Secretary of War had no knowledge of the 
Article of War at the root of the controversy, imtil his attention 
was called to it by the protest of the Court, and that when he 
fotmd that he had no authority to give the Superintendent 
of the Military Academy the power to order Courts of Inquiry, 
he had not the manliness to revoke that authority and put 
matters back where they were imder the law, but attempted 
to screen himself by the exercise of his mere power to scatter 
the officers whom he had wronged, in the expectation, perhaps, 
of never hearing from them further on the subject. But I 
determined that he should hear from me. 

" I went forthwith to Washington and presented myself to 
the Secretary of War, telling him that I had come there to 
complain of his order; that I considered it a grievance and a 

56 Fifty Years in Camp and Field 

wrong; that I had been relieved from a responsible duty per- 
formed by selected officers at a most desirable station and 
sent to the frontier for an act which I knew entitled me to the 
thanks of the army and of the government. Mr. Barbour 
shrugged his shoulders and endeavored to make light of it, 
stating that it was a mere difference of opinion and of no 
importance. I admitted that there was a difference of opinion, 
but that I stood upon the law and was entitled to be sustained 
in it. 

** * Oh! * said he, shrugging his shoulders again, * it is a mere 
difference of opinion, and if you don't choose to obey orders 
at West Point we will send others there who will obey them. ' 

***Sir,* said I, *I imdertake to assure you that you will 
not find an officer in the army that will obey that order! ' 

** He still declared that it was a matter of no importance, 
and I left him and went to see the President. I found Mr. 
Adams very accessible and civil. He asked me to be seated 
and listened with perfect patience to my statement, making 
no interruption whatever. When I had stated the case 
he laid his hands on a pile of papers and said in brief 

" * I have just received the papers in that case. — I will exam- 
ine them. If I find the order legal, I will confirm it ; if illegal 
I shall annul it.' 

"I wanted nothing more. I arose immediately and took, 
my leave with the single remark ' Mr. President : I shall be 
perfectly satisfied with your decision.' For I knew that if 
he looked at the papers he could form but one opinion, and 
that it would be in my favor. 

*' I then obtained temporary recruiting orders for the city 
of New York, arid went there. After some weeks I met Major 
Worth, who in the most friendly way expressed his regret 
at losing my services at West Point. I expressed my regret 
at being ordered from there. Our conversation ended by 
his asking me if I would permit him to apply for an order for 
my reinstatement. I told him certainly — he was entirely 
welcome to do so. He returned to West Point and I soon 
afterwards received a letter from him, in which he said he had 
presented the subject of my return to Major Thayer; he said 
that officer had spoken very kindly of me and wished my 

Voluntary Exile to Frontier 57 

return, but could not apply for it because I held opinions which 
were in opposition to the exercise of his proper authority; 
and Major Worth then desired me to write him and let him 
know whether I had not imdergone some change of opinion 
on the subject. 

'*I wrote to him stating my conscientious conviction of 
the justness of my opinion, and that I did not see how I could 
recede from it, — expressing, however, my very great regret 
at having been ordered away from West Point and saying that 
I should return there with the greatest pleasure if invited to 
do so. 

''Major Worth wrote again, urging many considerations 
why he thought I might relinquish my individual opinions, 
on the general grotmd of subordination to orders, — assuring 
me that there was nothing but this needed, and that Major 
Thayer would immediately apply for my return. This was 
placing me in a very trying position. I was warmly attached 
to my associates at West Point, and to service required of 
officers at that most charming place, — one of the most beauti- 
ful spots on the face of the earth. I felt, with a shudder, that 
after a brief recruiting duty I must unavoidably be ordered 
to a frontier service and companionship for which I had no 
taste and should lose all the advantages of cultivated life at 
the Military Academy. I nevertheless wrote to Major Worth 
that, notwithstanding the painful alternative which threatened 
me, I could not express any change of opinion, since none had 
taken place. I received several letters from him on this sub- 
ject along through several months, all very kind on his part, 
expressing his wish for my return to duty with him. 

*'At length, in the summer of 1828^ he wrote to me that 
Major Thayer would be in New York on his way to Washington 
City, and wished to see me personally, naming time and place. 
I called upon him upon his arrival in New York and we had a 
long conversation on the subject. I thoroughly explained 
my view of the matter to him. He endeavored to talk me 

» During this interval, Captain Hitchcock was on recruiting service, head 
quarters at New York. It was an agreeable station, but he was restless and 
discontented. He felt that he ought to be training the cadets, and in August, 
1827, he wrote to a friend from Fort Wood, on Bedloe's Island: "Nature 
abhors a state of rest. I have nothing in this world to do, or next to noth- 
ing, and yet I can no more sit still than I can hold a fire in my hands. " 

58 Fifty Years in Camp and Field 

out of it, with all the winning power he was master of, and 
told me that nothing stood in the way of my return to West 
Point but my opinion of his right to exercise an authority 
given him by the War Department ; and that if I would waive 
that opinion, he was going to Washington and would ask an 
order for my reinstatement. I told him I did not see how it 
was possible for me to do it. 

* ' He then said that on his arrival at Washington he would 
refer the matter to the President and the Secretary of War, 
and that, if they annulled his authority he would, at any rate, 
ask for my return; but that, if they reaffirmed it, Vould you 
not,* asked he, 'feel it your duty out of a becoming respect 
to such high authority to yield your individual opinion?* — 
explaining that he had no wish in connection with it, except 
the claims of consistency ; that it would not become him to ask 
for the services of an officer at West Point whose declared 
opinion was adverse to the exercise of authority with which 
he was clothed by a War Department order. 

"I told him in answer that as I then felt I could not say 
that I would obey the order, however highly sanctioned, but 
that, if he pleased, I would await his return from Washington, 
when we would have another conversation on the subject. 
After a few weeks I called to see him again, on his return from 
Washington, when he told me that the Secretary of War was 
absent, and that he had not found time or opportunity to bring 
the subject to the notice of the President, and that in short 
nothing had been done. 

**I then considered the subject finally disposed of, and 
saw nothing to delay my departure to the Northwest. Accord- 
ingly, in the fall of the year I received an order to conduct a 
body of recruits to the Northwest, and after distributing them 
to several designated stations I was directed to proceed to my 
company at Fort Snelling. I distributed the recruits, about 
400, and proceeded to Fort Crawford, Prairie duChien, arriving 
there towards the end of November, 1828, preparatory to 
going up the river to Fort Snelling. I had travelled by land 
from Green Bay to Fort Winnebago at the head of Fox River 
and thence descended the Wisconsin in what was called a 
Mackinaw boat, living a camp life, without any opportunity 
of attending to my toilet. 


Voluntary Exile to Frontier 59 

**At Fort Crawford I found my old friend, Maj. Stephen 
W. Kearney, in command, with several officers whom I for- 
merly knew in my service with the regiment in the south. 
Upon landing I reported personally to Major Kearney whom I 
met going to dinnner at the officers' mess. He insisted upon 
my going with him immediately, and I attempted to excuse 
myself, not being in trim, as I said, for the table, — ^not having 
seen a razor for several days, and it was not the custom then 
to go without shaving. He would not listen to any excuse, 
but led me to the mess room, where I found several officers 
standing, who were addressed by Major Kearney in mock 
form of language, 'Gentlemen: I have the pleasure to intro- 
duce Captain Hitchcock, and I assure you that when he is dressed 
and shaved, he is a very proper man. ' This was well received 
as a piece of fun, and I was cordially greeted by the 

"I remained several weeks at Fort Crawford, waiting for 
the river to freeze in order to go up to Fort Snelling on the 
ice, recommended to me as the best if not the only practic- 
able way of reaching the place at that season of the year. 
During this time I fully explained to Major Kearney the 
circumstances under which I had left West Point. He inquired 
what order had been issued by the President upon the subject. 
I told him that no order had been published as yet, but that 
I was not going to allow the subject to be dropped. 

"In fulfilment of this purpose I at once addressed a letter 
to the President, calling his attention to his promise, and to 
my entire dependence upon his sense of justice, insisting upon 
the wrong that had been done me and others through the 
existence of an illegal order, and that I felt it my duty to do 
what lay in my power to have the order revoked to prevent its 
doing any further mischief. Upon showing the letter to Major 
Kearney he advised me strongly not to send it, because it would 
necessarily go through the hands of the Secretary of War to 
whom it contained several not particularly respectful refer- 
ences. I had characterized the act of the Secretary of War as 
a dishonorable evasion. Major K. again advised me not to 
send it, but I told him it was the truth and I did not care for 
the consequences. I told him that the letter should go ; that 
I did not care what the Secretary might think about it ; that 

6o Fifty Years rn Camp and Field 

he had already done his worst in regard to me and that I had 
determined that the illegal order should be revoked. 

"Some days after my letter had gone, one evening Major 
Kearney sent his compliments to me: he wished to see me at 
his quarters. A mail had just arrived from the East with 
letters and papers, — a, rare event of much interest at a remote 
station in midwinter. I went to the Major's quarters. He 
met me with a cheerful smile, and held up before me a news- 
paper with a paragraph for me to read, at the same time 
playfully putting one of his hands over my heart, saying: 
* I told you you had better not send that letter to the 
President ! ' 

" Without making any answer I read the paragraph in the 
paper. It stated that Major Worth had resigned the post of 
Commandant of Cadets at West Point and that I had been 
appointed in his stead! The mail brought a very kind note 
from Major Thayer enclosing me a copy of the order, and re- 
questing me to lose no time in joining him. Here was a 
promotion for me and a very considerable change in my desti- 
nation. I immediately prepared for a midwinter journey, 
starting the middle of January from Fort Crawford." 

The reader who follows the course of this history cannot 
fail to observe that the instance just narrated is typical of 
several similar episodes in the military Hfe of Hitchcock, who 
seems never to have hesitated a moment to disobey and defy 
his elders or superiors whenever he felt sure that their orders 
were a clear violation of the laws enacted to govern him and 
them. The reader will not fail also to infer, what was the 
exact fact, that during his long service at West Point, Captain 
Hitchcock had become one of the best informed officers and 
one of the most expert masters of military discipline and 
evolution in the entire American army, so that he was often 
applied to on occasions calling for imusual skill or science. 
On his way back to West Point he writes in his diary : 

"The Superintendent has selected me . notwithstanding 
my declared and persistent opposition to the exercise of his 
authority. This seems to me alike honorable to the Superin- 
tendent and myself; for, while it ought to secure my name 
from any imputation of having lent myself to unjust measures, 
it shows no less clearly that the Superintendent has only the 

Triumphant Vindication 6i 

good of the institution at heart and does not wish the presence 
of a submissive instrument for improper purposes." 

Some time later he gave the following free-hand sketch 
of his journey back to the beloved Academy: 

** I was two months in making the journey from Fort 
Crawford to West Point. There were no railroads in those 
days, and even travelling by regular coaches had not been 
established in many parts of the country. I went seventy 
miles on horseback to Galena with a pack horse for my little 
baggage. I staid one night in a small log hut occupied by a 
miner and his wife, who insisted on sleeping upon the rough 
floor and giving up to me the only bed. It was the way of the 
country, travellers being thus accommodated at moderate 
rates, and it helped the settlers along. From Galena to St. 
Louis I went by a light Dearborn wagon. We met the first 
stage coach ever put upon the road. There was but one house 
where its passengers and ours stopped all night. This solitary 
house belonged to the ferryman and it was the site of the pres- 
ent flourishing city of Peoria. After a supper of bacon, com 
bread, and coffee, a * shakedown ' was prepared on the floor, 
extending nearly across the building, and we all threw our- 
selves upon it, our feet towards the blazing fire. One snoring 
passenger disturbed all the rest, and there was hardly any 
sleep that night. Tin cups were put in occasional requisition 
and everybody took a drink, some of the party continuing 
to imbibe until after midnight. 

"At St. Louis I was detained several days waiting for a 
promised steamer, but an ice jam in the Mississippi damped 
our hopes, and with one other man, I took passage across 
Illinois in a rickety old post-coach with tattered curtains, 
a cold and dreary vehicle. After some days this coach broke 
down and we abandoned it for an extemporized contrivance, 
called in that region a, 'jumper,' consisting of a crate or dry- 
goods box supported on a couple of saplings serving for 
runners and shafts. In this comfortable affair we travelled 
some days and when we had become thoroughly tired of it we 
exchanged it for a city hack which we met coming from Louis- 
ville, paying the party some reasonable or imreasonable 
difference in cash. We were quite cheerful for a little time 
when we ran over a stump and broke the axle before the horses 

62 Fifty Years in Camp and Field 

could be stopped. The fine coach was permanently disabled 
and we at last hired a common wagon without springs or 
conveniences of any sort and continued our journey for some 
distance when one of the hind wheels of that broke. The 
driver cut down a small tree, tied one end on top of the iron 
axle and contrived to support the wrecked vehicle for some 
distance further. 

" After innumerable vicissitudes of an unpleasant character ^ 
I reached New York in March, just in time to take the first 
North River steamer after the breaking up of the ice; and 
reported at West Point. I was received by Major Thayer 
with the greatest possible kindness, and without any allusion 
whatever to the cause of my having been sent away from the 
Academy ; in fact, the difficulty that had caused our separation 
was never afterwards spoken of. 

" On one of my visits to Washington City subsequently 
I inquired at the Engineer Department whether anything had 
ever been done about the order of the War Department giving 
the Superintendent of the Academy authority to order Courts 
of Inquiry, and an officer informed me that an informal note 
from the Secretary of War had been sent to that office, directing 
that no such Courts should be ordered in future. My expla- 
nation of the matter was that the President had fulfilled his 
promise to me, and had directed that the order should be 
annulled, but that the Secretary of War had not the ingenuous- 
ness to annul the order openly, but preferred merely to direct 
that no more such Courts should be organized under his 

Judging from his scanty diary from 1825 to 1828, Captain 
Hitchcock devoted much of his spare time to solitary medi- 
tation and self-questioning. He is evidently heretical in 
many respects and alludes to "the various fables that have 
occupied the world in explanation of the origin of things." 

It was the spring of 1829 (March 13th) when he again reached 
West Point and assumed command of the corps of cadets, 
" having maintained my principles and my sense of rectitude, " 
he records in his diary with excusable exultation. 

The following four years at West Point were years of quiet 
satisfaction. There is in the diary much visiting, some 
reluctant dining out, short travels, thoughtful comment on 

Triumphant Vindication 63 

life and nature — especially human nature — but somewhat 
less of metaphysics and serious introspection than of old.^ 

Diary, 183 1 : ** I dined with Washington Irving. He looks 
like his portraits, — mild, amiable, benevolent." 

Diary: ''July 14, 1832. Arrival of Mrs. General Scott 
at my house with her family to escape the cholera, 2 the General 
being absent in what was called the Blackhawk campaign." 
The lady had fled with her children from New York City to 
West Point, and remained there four months, till her husband 
returned from his campaign in the West and the pestilence 
was notably abated. 

» In 1830 and 1831, Edgar Allan Poe was a cadet at West Point under 
the instruction of Captain Hitchcock, and for the first six months stood near 
the head of his class, but becoming restless and indifferent, he was cashiered 
and dismissed the service. 

2 Diary of later date: "The cholera'made its appearance on this conti- 
nent in 1832, striking first at Quebec and shortly after at the heart of New 
York, throwing the whole city into the greatest consternation. It was said 
that 60,000 people left the city in three days. I went down to see how it 
looked. It was nearly deserted; very still; no business; the very gutters 
whitewashed for cleanliness. " 



THE early thirties were years of quiet study and calm 
content with Captain Hitchcock. His associations were 
those he so much prized. But an evil time was again 
at hand, for which General Jackson was responsible. A de- 
tailed narrative of this proceeds as follows : 

" Colonel Thayer, the Superintendent of the Academy, had 
introduced a body of regulations for its government, which ap- 
peared hardly to admit of improvement. The system of studies 
had been perfectly arranged and the discipline of the corps 
was imexceptionable. A due enforcement of these regulations 
was all that was required. Semi-annual examinations took 
place with the most admirable results, the meritorious cadets 
receiving due commendation, and the idle and negligent receiv- 
ing fitting rebuke. When serious misconduct occurred the 
culpable were brought to trial before duly organized courts- 
martial, and allowed all the privileges of a defence before a 
judgment was rendered. 

"This beautiful system was first broken in upon by Presi- 
dent Jackson, who, without any proper knowledge of the Acad- 
emy, its officers, its professors, or the nature of the studies 
pursued, imdertook to control the Academy by his personal 
prejudices. Some three or four students, whom he had recom- 
mended and patronized, had been dismissed for negligence 
and misconduct, by due operation of the academic regulations 
and the decisions of courts-martial. He listened to the ex 


General Jackson Interferes with Discipline 65 

parte stories told by the young men who had been sent home 
in disgrace and conceived the most extreme disHke of Colonel 
Thayer and the system of instruction and discipline pursued 
under him. The fact was that every student, whether in the 
recitation room, in the examination hall, or before a court- 
martial, stood absolutely upon his own merit and was not 
affected by personal influence. The officers and professors had 
one object only, and that was to promote the best interests of 
the Academy and provide competent officers for the army 
of the United States. President Jackson did not understand 
or appreciate the institution, and, governed by his extreme 
prejudices, undertook to overrule and set aside the deliberate 
judgment of the Academic Board and, by his mere arbitrary 
will, to nullify the decision of its courts-martial without any 
just grounds whatever. Cadets who had been ordered to be 
discharged would appear at Washington, either personally 
or by friends, with the almost invariable result that an order 
would be issued by the President annulling the judgments 
and restoring them to their classes. A cadet who was really 
a disgrace to the Academy would frequently be thus returned 
to the institution after dismissal, to scoff at the regulations 
he had defied and furnish an example by which great numbers 
of the thoughtless would become also reckless. 

*' Among evils that had crept into the Academy during the 
canvass preceding the election of President Jackson was a 
disposition in the Corps of Cadets to discuss 'politics' — as 
they are called — ^while the science of politics, which is almost 
imknown even in the legislative assemblages of the nation, 
was a subject almost entirely beyond the reach of these im- 
mature youths just laying the foundation of an education. 
This tendency proceeded so far that a young man — certainly 
one of the very worst in the Academy — by the name of Norris, 
actually planted a hickory pole in the centre of the ordinary 
parade groimd of the corps. Norris had acquired his political 
tendencies and habits among the lower class of people in the 
city of New York. His act of planting a hickory upon the 
public parade ground was so evidently a violation of propriety 
and good order that he was rebuked for it by the Superinten- 
dent, and the rebuke was duly reported to the President as a 
grievous outrage upon the young man. 

66 Fifty Years in Camp and Field 

" I had several conversations with ColonelThayer in consider- 
ation of the subject, and we agreed that the evil influence was 
spreading, he noticing it chiefly in the growing neglect of study, 
while I observed it principally in the tendency to disorder. 
Instead of advancing in study and striving to rise in the scale 
of merit, the attention of the cadets now seemed drawn to a 
consideration of means by which they might escape the penal- 
ties of idleness and neglect of duty. The temper of the whole 
corps had become more or less corrupted, so that, instead of 
looking upon the professors and officers as their friends working 
for their advancement in life, they regarded them rather as 
enemies seeking occasion to punish them. 

**Much dissatisfied with this state of things I called on 
Colonel Thayer and asked his permission to go to Washington 
and see the President personally and convince him, if I could, 
of the importance of having the regulations of the Academy 
duly observed. He answered at once that he would give me 
an order for it. I had not thought of this, but hoped simply 
to see the President, feeling perfect confidence in the justness 
of my views and some reliance upon my ability to impress 
them upon him. For surely, thought I, a reasonable man 
must be accessible to reason. The maxim is well enough, 
but imforttinately does not always find fit materials to work 
upon. Colonel Thayer directed me to say to the President that 
if the regulations were not such as he approved, he should 
cause them to be modified till they should meet his approbation ; 
but that, at all events, it was absolutely necessary that the 
rules should be enforced, for the value, if not the existence, 
of the institution depended upon it. Under these instructions 
I proceeded to Washington and arrived there on November 
24, 1832, well prepared by large experience in the Academy 
and by much reflection to lay the subject fully before the 
President ; and I did not intend to lose my point by any want 
of a direct and clear statement of the difficulty. 

"The President was seated, and heard the principal por- 
tion of what I had to say without exhibition of any 
particular temper; but the moment he began to speak he 
became excited, and spoke of the 'tyranny' of ColonelThayer 
and, rising from his chair, he stalked before me, swing- 
ing his arms as if in a rage and speaking of the case of 


Captain Hitchcock Expostulates in Person 67 

Norris, of which I saw that he had been informed or mis- 

" 'Why,' said he, 'the autocrat of the Russias couldn't 
exercise more power ! ' 

"Upon this I broke out with as much excitement as 
he himself had exhibited, and said, * Mr. President, you 
are misinformed on this subject and do not understand 

"Whether he saw from my manner that I was not likely 
to be overborne by any affected passion of his own, I cannot 
say, but he immediately changed his entire tone and manner 
and resumed his seat. He said that Norris had only done 
what the people in New York and everywhere else were doing ; 
to which I answered that the people of New York and every- 
where else might do many things which students at West Point 
could not be permitted to do. I explained to him how incon- 
gruous it was for boys at a public school to employ themselves 
in making political demonstrations on the parade ground 
instead of attending to their studies. Our interview ended 
by his asking me to request General Gratiot, Chief Engineer and 
ex ojficio Inspector of the Military Academy (on whom I was 
about to call) , to see him at once. I communicated the message 
to General Gratiot and waited in his office until his return. On 
coming back he said to me, * Your visit has done something ; 
for the President has directed the academic regulations to 
be examined and reported on by General Jesup and General 
Jones. ' 

"I returned to West Point and reported to the Superin- 
tendent. After a few weeks it was communicated to Colonel 
Thayer that after an examination of the regulations the two 
^officers had assured the President that no change in them was 
required. Here matters rested for a time; but three or four 
months later there was another arbitrary interference by the 
President, showing that he had no regard for the regulations 
and was determined to substitute for them his own personal 

" Hereupon (July i, 1833,) Colonel Thayer resigned his posi- 
tion as Superintendent. I determined to do likewise and asked 
to be relieved from duty at the Academy, but in accordance 
with the earnest request of Colonel Thayer and his successor. 

68 Fifty Years in Camp and Field 

Colonel De Rusey,^ I consented to remain for a few weeks. At 
the end of this time an order came relieving me from duty 
at West Point. 2 This order was accompanied by a kind note 
from General Macomb, offering me tmasked recruiting duty 
in the city of Boston, to which place I proceeded in the simimer 
of 1833. My entire connection with the Military Academy 
had extended to nearly twelve years, first as a cadet, then as 
an Assistant Instructor of Tactics, and finally as the Military 
Commandant of the Corps of Cadets.'* 

It should be added that as early as Jime, 1832, Captain 
Hitchcock, morbidly remorseful on accoimt of a life of ease, 
had written to Colonel Thayer requesting to be relieved from his 
agreeable service at the Academy that he might join his com- 
pany on duty in the far West. Colonel Thayer replied that he 
could not be spared at the Academy. Captain Hitchcock then 
wrote to Colonel Thayer as follows : 

*'Sir: — Under present circumstances of Indian alarms on 
the Northwestern frontier, I feel it to be my duty to request 
you to call the attention of the Department of War to the fact 
that my company is on that frontier. 

"In abstaining from expression of a strong desire to ex- 
change my present station for frontier service, I trust it is 
unnecessary to declare my readiness to participate in the 
fatigues imposed upon my brothers in arms by present con- 
tingencies in the West. " 

The time had now come when the War Department could 
avail itself of his generous offer. He was therefore ordered 
to Boston to recruit his company preparatory to going with 
the recruits to the Northwest. 

> Diary: "Colonel De Rusey came and also begged me to remain on the 
ground that I knew the routine of duty in the Academy and he needed 
my services. " 

2 Diary : ' ' Almost every officer on duty at the Point was changed except 
the regularly commissioned professors." 




DURING his connection with the Military Academy, Captain 
Hitchcock had under his personal instruction most of 
the men who afterwards achieved a high position of 
command during the Civil War, either in the Union or the 
Rebel army. Among these men whom he had taught were 
Meigs, Sherman, Sedgwick, C. F. Smith, Hooker, Meade, Pleas- 
onton, Pemberton, Early, Emory, Wessells, Curtis, Cullom, 
Keyes, Magruder, Casey, Buford, Humphreys, Heintzelman, 
Leonidas Polk, Joseph E. Johnston, Robert E. Lee, and Jeffer- 
son Davis. 

As Commandant of Cadets he stood very high. But he had 
pursued his duties resolutely : he had not been sycophantic or 
obsequious to President Jackson, and therefore his promotion, 
now due, met an insuperable obstacle at the White House. 
His friends helped to organize a regiment of dragoons for him, 
but, though his friend Kearney was made Lieutenant-Colonel, 
the majority went elsewhere.^ 

During this year there was seriously wanted a strong, con- 
scientious, and exemplary man for governor of the prosperous 
colony of Liberia, and, the president of the Colonization 
Society asking Major-General Macomb, the hero of Platts- 

1 Diary: " Colonel Kearney made an attempt to have me appointed Major 
and his effort was warmly seconded by the distinguished Commander-in- 
chief, but there was an opponent much more formidable: President Jack- 
son did not forget my protest in favor of discipline, and he refused to appoint 
me. " 


70 Fifty Years in Camp and Field 

burg, who had climbed from the ranks to be Commander-in- 
chief of the army, to recommend such a person, he unhesita- 
tingly named Captain Hitchcock. The society at once and by 
unanimous vote confirmed the selection and its president 
WTOte to him, "Our colony requires a gentleman of talents, 
experience, and practical energy in the government of men, 
and we feel entire confidence in your distinguished qualifica- 
tions. " General Macomb wrote, *' I am decidedly of the opin- 
ion that you are well qualified for the office, both on account 
of your talents and firmness and because of your enterprising 
disposition." Henry Clay was president of the Society. 
It was an honorable position, and one of Captain Hitchcock's 
friends wrote him, ** The Governor of Liberia will be virtually 
a king. " General Macomb offered him a leave of absence for a 
year to try the experiment, but the Captain did not wish to 
be king, and the appointment was resolutely declined, though 
the offer was repeatedly renewed, with many compliments 
and blandishments, during three years. 

These years were eventful ones to Captain Hitchcock. Be- 
ing relieved of recruiting, in the spring of 1834 he went to 
Mobile on a visit to his mother and his brother Henry, and 
thence to New Orleans, and after a brief sojourn ascended 
the Mississippi on a steamboat to the head-quarters of his 
regiment at Fort Crawford in "Wisconsin Territory." He 
entertained himself on the boat with some books and his 
flute. ^ Arrived at Galena from St. Louis in eight days! The 
Captain records in his diary : 

"It is an everlasting job to get up this river. I wonder 
what it was made so long for." Arrived at Prairie du Chien 
in April, and at Fort Crawford "was kindly welcomed" by 
his old friend Col. Zachary Taylor. 

"Arrived this morning just before breakfast and Colonel Tay- 
lor immediately told me to make his house my home till I should 
arrange my quarters. This courtesy is evidence of kindness 
which in this case has been made more apparent by the manner. 
He is full of spleen against a variety of the measures of the 
government, and, having been a Jackson man and being now 

> Diary: "I am certainly too well practised with the flute and have too 
much music for an amateur. I can excuse myself only by explaining that 
I have much need of music to pass my time. " 



Nominated to be Governor of Liberia 71 

an Anti, he is, like most converts, rather warm. This morning 
he began reading to me what he called * a little note to a mem- 
ber of Congress.' It ran entirely through three sheets of 
letter paper closely written. He is very long-winded and by 
writing so voluminously must have defeated his own efforts. 
He is, however, a faithful officer and has probably rendered 
the government as much personal service as any officer in the 
army. I breakfasted with him this morning before six o'clock 
— his usual hour." 

But Captain Hitchcock, though second to the commandant, 
had annoyances of his own during this spring of 1834. He was 
closely surrounded by officers who knew little of books and 
cared less and who possessed few conversational resources, but 
who made themselves at home in his quarters and occupied *' the 
precious hours," as he calls them, with scandal, quarrels, and 
boasting, dull frivolities and old and coarse jokes. After they 
had wasted a month of his evenings by besieging him in his own 
rooms, he breaks out in his diary with : ' ' They have gone at last ! 
Their talk is utterly unsuited to my taste and temper. The 
devil take that story of the snuff ! I heard it before the begin- 
ning of time!" He often reflects upon his loneliness, which he 
calls ''the melancholy privilege of age" — at thirty-five! 

During May he went 250 miles up the Mississippi to Fort 
Snelling and returned. Diary: ''The presence of the whites 
is a blight upon the Indian character, which, in its own native 
simplicity, is far less objectionable than is generally supposed. " 
In October Colonel Taylor resigned the command and left Fort 
Crawford, and Captain Hitchcock succeeded to the post for 
sixty days, becoming at the same time Indian Agent to the 
tribes on the Upper Mississippi. The coimtry was kept in a 
tumult by the continual wars between the Sioux, Winnebagoes, 
and Sacs and Foxes. Numerous murders were committed 
and the Captain had his hands full. He had no time to join in 
the " hunting parties" of the garrison, even if he had possessed 
the inclination, but he was not a sportsman^ in any sense 

» "Fort Crawford, 1835. When I was in Mobile my brother gave me 
a very beautiful gun, and when I came here I thought I would use it, but 
after two or three attempts I laid it aside and for more than four months 
I have not touched it. Friends here gave me two dogs to encourage me: 
my neglect of them has made me a stranger to them and the soldiers have 
completely got possession of them. " 

73 Fifty Years in Camp and Field 

of that word . He replenished the post library and read much, 
recording in his diary an impromptu aphorism to the effect 
that '*No man knows how Httle he knows unless he thinks 
a great deal and reads a good many books. " 

During three months he studied hard to master the higher 
requirements of his profession, fought over again in his quar- 
ters the great battles of history, became familiar with Jomini, 
acquainted himself with all arms of the service, put his troops 
through evolutions till they were tired, and made suggestions 
to the War Department for the revision of the Army Regula- 
tions which won an expression of gratification from Major- 
General Macomb, Commander-in-chief of the army, who 
submitted the whole book to the critic for "further altera- 
tion or improvement either in language or matter." 

**Feb. i6, 1835. I am in a peculiar situation here. I do 
not wish to depreciate the merits of my brother officers, but 
it is certain that their habits if not their tastes are different 
from mine, and, while a majority of them congregate and 
either play cards or smoke or drink or all three together, I am 
left in solitude or compelled to choose between those resorts 
and the company of the few ladies there are at the Prairie. 
... I am certainly out of place here. My life is calculated 
to make me an object of envy and hate to most of those around 
me. In the first place, I do not join in any of the vices of the 
garrison — ^not one. I neither drink, play cards, nor even 
indulge in the smallest license of language. Next, I am dis- 
posed to literature and sometimes indicate that I read or 
think, and it is mostly in a field unexplored by the others. 
I visit the ladies and am almost the only officer who does visit 
them, and this is calculated to move to jealousy. " 

8th May, 1835. "Yesterday was consumed in business, 
some acting and some as witnesses. The Sacs and Fox Indians 
brought with them the murderers of the lodge of Winnebagoes 
last fall. The murderers of the Menomenees have been con- 
fined here during the winter, having been surrendered by the 
Sacs and Foxes on the application of the Indian Agent last 
fall. The three tribes. Sacs and Foxes (known as one tribe) , 
the Winnebagoes and Menomenees, were represented yesterday 
in coimcil and made a treaty of peace. The process was this: 

** Notice having been given by the Indian Agent, the Winne- 

To the Upper Mississippi with Zachary Taylor 73 

bagoes and Menomenees assembled at the council room and were 
all seated when the Sacs and Foxes came up from the steam- 
boat in solemn procession. A chief with a peace pipe led; 
immediately behind him were the four murderers who had 
occasioned the difficulty ; these were bound by means of strings 
of wampum securing their elbows behind, their hands and 
limbs otherwise free. They had no blankets on, wearing only 
strouds and leggings. Then followed the remainder, some 
thirty or forty Sacs and Foxes. As they approached the 
council they halted a few minutes and then advanced slowly 
into the cotmcil room singing to the very door in a low solemn 
chant a death song. They entered the council in silence and 
stood opposite the other tribes, who occupied one half of the 
room. They stood in silence I suppose fifteen minutes or 
more. The chief with the pipe then commenced addressing 
the Winnebagoes, saying with many repetitions in substance 
that they (the Sacs and Foxes) had come up to make a peace 
with the Winnebagoes and Menomenees; that the murders 
committed last fall were perpetrated by individuals (bad) 
and not by the nation; that the nation had surrendered the 
guilty but that he hoped to find the two tribes disposed to 
forgive and smoke with them in peace. ' I shall now offer 
you the pipe of peace and as the smoke ascends I hope it will 
carry with it to the clouds all dark and unfriendly thoughts,' 

' ' He then went forward after lighting the pipe with a piece 
of spunk, and offering the pipe it was received by the Winne- 
bagoes, each one taking one or two whiffs. Some would direct 
the smoke up to the clouds, in reference no doubt to the senti- 
ment in the speech. When the chief came to a Menomenee 
he held his blanket over his lips and would not touch the pipe. 
The chief held it it silence before him not less than three or 
four minutes — it might have been longer — during which time 
there was perfect silence. At length he withdrew and, taking 
his former stand, expressed his gratification that the Winne- 
bagoes had accepted the pipe. He hoped they would now live 
as one family, as they formerly had done, etc., etc. Those 
of the Winnebagoes who had lost relations now advanced and, 
each taking a Sac prisoner, led them forward among themselves, 
seated them on mats and loosened their arms and took oft' 

74 Fifty Years in Camp and Field 

from their necks heavy strings of wampum. They then took 
new blankets and put one upon each and resumed their seats. 

''Keokuck, the principal Sac chief, who before had said 
nothing, now arose and with great emphasis addressed the 
nations, first expressing his happiness that the Winnebagoes 
had accepted their offers of peace, and then offered persuasions, 
to the Menomenees, saying much that had been said before and 
calling upon them to forgive the acts of mdividuals and not 
plunge the two nations in a war on their account — ^to have 
regard to their wives and children who must suffer in such a 
struggle. "He recollected the time when the two tribes had 
but one fire, one kettle, one pipe. Let it be so again, etc. 
I am now going to offer you my hand, " and then with a very 
imposing presence he advanced to them and with evident 
reluctance and coldness they accepted his hand. He resumed 
his talk and thanked them. Another chief then talked in a 
similar strain and going forward gave the Menomenees a 
quantity of wampiim, which they accepted. The peace was 
now considered complete and many talks were made by the 
Sacs and Foxes — all expressing pretty much the same senti- 
ment — ^happiness to find themselves among friends. One 
Winnebago made a speech and declared himself perfectly 
satisfied — that the dead could not be called to life, that the 
Sac nation had done all they could to make amends. This 
Winnebago was a principal sufferer. They were all told then 
by the agent that they must sign a treaty to be sent to their 
great father, the President. 

'*I was requested then to play secretary and wrote out a 
treaty at the dictation of General Street, which was signed by the 
head men of the tribes and witnessed by General Street, Colonel 
Taylor, and sundry others. Some doubts had been expressed 
by two or three of the officers whether the Menomenees were 
perfectly satisfied, as they had not smoked and had said nothing. 
But the Indians understood their accepting the wampimi as it 
appeared, for I proposed asking them distinctly whether they 
were willing to have the prisoners in the garrison delivered 
to their friends and they answered in the affirmative. This 
was declared before they signed the treaty. Before the even- 
ing set in Colonel Taylor ordered the prisoners released and the 
whole are now on their way to their 'grounds. ' " 

Indian Hostilities and the Peace Pipe 75 

Days of melancholy introspection were broken in upon by a 
letter from his brother Henry at Mobile, who had been elected 
Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Alabama. The judge 
had become not only very popular but wealthy, and he now 
offered to the Captain splendid pecuniary inducements to 
resign his commission and live the quiet life of a successful 
planter. For the social prejudice against army officers still 
persisted, and it was something of a trial to Captain Hitchcock's 
friends that he should be condemned to such an obscure and 
unrewarded profession. Col. Zachary Taylor, on being con- 
sulted with, advised the acceptance of the offer, but sug- 
gested a visit to Mobile to consider the matter after being in 
possession of all important details. Thereupon he applied for 
leave of absence for four months. 

The request was promptly granted by the War Department, 
and Captain Hitchcock left Fort Crawford for Mobile about 
October ist. Arrived at that city, Judge Henry Hitchcock ex- 
plained to his military brother the opportunities which Mobile 
presented for success in business, and offered to give him a 
piece of property there which returned an annual income of 
$10,000, his main purpose, of course, being to withdraw the 
Captain from the army in hope of benefiting him. The 
Captain, after much thoughtful consideration, declined all 
offers, and announced that he should permanently retain the 
profession which he had chosen. 



WHILE the munificent proposal was being discussed in 
Mobile in January, 1836, Captain Hitchcock received 
a note from his friend and former pupil Lieut. 
Silas Casey, a young officer on duty at Tampa Bay in Florida, 
reporting the details of the defeat and massacre by the Semi- 
nole Indians of Major Dade and more than 100 men on their 
march from Tampa to Fort King. The recipient forwarded 
this note by rapid post to Washington, and it is said to have 
been the first news which the government received of this ter- 
rible tragedy. A meeting to raise troops was held at once in 
Mobile, and Captain Hitchcock was offered the command of the 
regiment. He held his acceptance of the offer in suspense 
while the men were assembling. 

There had always been irritations between the Seminoles 
and their white neighbors, chiefly on account of the slaves 
who escaped from Georgia and found a refuge in the swamps 
of the peninsula. The State authorities demanded a return 
of the fugitives, and the Seminoles made answer that to catch 
runaway negroes and send them back to their alleged owners 
was no part of their business or their duty, and they refused 
to obey the command. The invasion of the peninsula by 
sheriffs and the consequent concealment of the fugitives by 
their brown friends marked the beginning of the hostilities 
that became known as the ''Florida War. " 

"Say no more about my withdrawal from the army,'* 
remarked the officer to his generous brother; *'an Indian war 


Origin of Seminole War 77 

has broken out and duty calls me to it.** Surrendering his 
leave of absence he offered himself as a volunteer aid when 
General Gaines arrived on Jan. i8th. His offer was eagerly 
accepted and the General called him to his staff to perform 
the duties of Assistant Adjutant-General. 

The great war with the Seminoles had obviously begun. 
Who began it? Were the Indians alone to blame? Or were 
they even chiefly to blame? These questions were thought- 
fully considered in the light of all the facts by the subject of 
this history some years later, and, after much research and 
many conferences with the principals engaged. General Hitch- 
cock wrote the following account as an approximate answer: 

"As early as 1823, a treaty (ratified in 1824) was made by 
the government of the United States with the Seminole ^ or 
Florida Indians, by which the Indians surrendered to the 
government their entire coast, with a breadth of about twenty 
miles extent of country, fixing a northern boundary running 
nearly east and west through where Palatka is situated ; and 
the government stipulated expressly to secure to the Indians 
certain specified benefits for the period of twenty years. This 
was called 'the treaty of Camp Moultrie. ' But when General 
Jackson became the President of the United States, six years 
later, he determined to remove all of the Indians in the South- 
ern States, including Florida, to the west of the Mississippi 
River. For this purpose he sent agents among the various 
tribes to open negotiations with them, inviting them to enter 
into other treaties stipulating for their immediate emigration. 
This object was, in the main, accomplished, but not without 
fraud on the part of some of the agents, which was counte- 
nanced by President Jackson. The Cherokee and the Semi- 
nole Indians were especially and grossly defrauded, resulting 
in a war with the latter of several years' duration, involving 
government disbursements more than sufficient to pay for 

> The name Seminoles signifies runaways in the language of the Creek 
nation, to which this tribe originally belonged, according to Catlin. They 
were also called Isti-Semole, or wild men, on account of their being principally 
hunters and attending but little to farming. Catlin speaks of them in 183 7-8 
as "occupying the peninsula of Florida; semi-civilized, partly agricultural. 
The government has succeeded in removing about one half of them to the 
Arkansas, during the past four years, at the expense of $32,000,000, the 
lives of 28 or 30 officers, and 600 soldiers. " 

78 Fifty Years in Camp and Field 

the whole country five times over in any honest dealings. 
To briefly rehearse the facts in the case : 

**A treaty was drawn up in 1832, in the city of Washington, 
for the emigration of the tribe and Colonel Gadsden, then a resi- 
dent of Charleston, South Carolina, who had formerly been 
a staff officer with the President when in the army as Major- 
General, was sent to the Seminoles to offer the prepared treaty 
for their acceptance. The chiefs were called together by Colonel 
Gadsden at Payne's Landing near the northern boundary of the 
Seminole country. That tribe had a chief named Miccanopy,^ 
whom they dignified with the title of king; a very portly, 
fleshy, and dull man, who had with him a runaway negro from 
Pensacola, named Abram, universally recognized in the charac- 
ter of sense-bearer to the king, who was never knov/n to do 
anything against the counsel of the runaway negro. Indians 
and negroes easily lived together under the extraordinary 
conditions that, whilst the Indian claimed superiority over 
the negro and held him a slave, in virtue of his superior courage, 
the negro maintained a sort of ascendency over the Indian by 
something like superior intelligence and a little education, 
made effective for the most part in his intercourse with the 
whites; most of the negroes among the Southern Indians being 
runaway slaves. 

"When the chiefs were assembled, with Abram not only 
as sense-bearer but as interpreter, Colonel Gadsden disclosed the 
object of his mission, which was met at once by an answer 
that they had made a treaty with the United States, by which 
they were guaranteed certain interests in the country they 
occupied for a period of twenty years, several years of which 
remained unexpired ; and they wished that time to be passed 
over, when they would be willing to talk about another treaty. 
Colonel Gadsden explained and talked with the Indians in that 

» Mick-e-no-pdh, "top-governor" of the tribe, commanded in the defeat 
and massacre of Major Dade's command, Dec. 28, 1835. When the war 
broke out he owned 100 negroes and was raising large and valuable crops 
of com and cotton. He is described by M. M. Cohen in his Notices of Florida 
as "of low, stout, and gross stature, and what is called loggy in his move- 
ments; his face bloated and carbuncled; eyes heavy and dull, and with a 
mind like his person. Colonel Gadsden told me, at Payne's Landing," con- 
tinues Cohen, "that after having double rations he complained of starving. 
He reminds me of the heroes of the Trojan War, who would eat up a whole 
lamb, or half a calf. " 

Indians Deceived 79 

day's council, without making any impression upon them. 
King Miccanopy made but one answer, repeating again and 
again that the Indians had made one treaty, by which they 
were entitled to remain undisturbed in their country for twenty 
years, etc., etc. This first day's council was a pattern which 
was exactly followed through several days without making the 
slightest progress. 

' * But in these cotincils Colonel Gadsden fully discovered the 
character and influence of Abram, and he determined to 
confer with him privately and see w^hat he could be induced to 
agree to. It was finally arranged to add an article to the 
treaty prepared in Washington, to the effect that the Indians 
should appoint a delegation of six of their tribe, to be conducted 
to their proposed new country west of the Mississippi by an 
agent of the government, and it was agreed that if this delega- 
tion approved of the country, the treaty was to be made valid ; 
but this could be secured only by means of another article 
which operated upon and was intended to be a bribe of the 
interpreter. Under pretence of providing compensation for 
the services of Abram, it was stipulated that, upon the rati- 
fication of the treaty, he should be paid $200, which was a 
large sum in the eyes of a runaway slave in a country where 
very little money was ever seen. That this was intended for 
a bribe became certain when, subsequently, Colonel Gadsden 
reported in person to President Jackson his efforts in securing 
the treaty and stated in the presence of Captain Thruston of 
the army, who informed the writer of this article of it, that 
he never could have got the treaty through if he had not bribed 
the negro interpreter. But, precisely in connection with this 
bribe, there grew up a misunderstanding between King Mic- 
canopy and the government agents. 

*'Six of the tribe were deputed by the chiefs to go to the 
West, and examine the new country proposed for the tribe. 
They were placed under the care of a Major Phagan, who took 
them to the West, passing beyond Fort Gibson near the mouth 
of the Grand River; and having shown them the country, 
he returned to Fort Gibson, on his way back to Florida. While 
at Fort Gibson — ^and the authority for this statement is the 
officer at that post who affirmed the facts to the writer of this— 
Major Phagan submitted to the Indians a paper and asked 

8o Fifty Years in Camp and Field 

them to sign it, expressing their approval of the country, 
with the design, by means of that paper, to complete the treaty 
according t'o one of the articles added by Colonel Gadsden, as 
stated above. The Indians refused to sign the paper, saying 
that they had no authority to do it, explaining that they had 
been ordered to go and see the new country, and then to return 
to their king and report their opinion about it, when the king 
and his chiefs were to decide whether they were to accept the 
treaty or not. Major Phagan would not allow them to take 
this course, insisting that they should sign the paper before he 
would proceed with them on the journey home ; and under this 
duress they finally signed the paper, which was sent to Wash- 
ington city as the evidence required that the treaty was now 
complete. The paper was not signed in the presence of commis- 
sioners, but was accepted by Governor Stokes and others, who 
had been appointed commissioners to execute some business 
with the Creek Indians already in the West, among whom it 
was proposed to incorporate the Seminoles. 

** When, some time after this, it became known to the king 
and his chiefs that the government expected a fulfilment of 
the treaty on their part, they denied the authority of the six 
deputed men to make the treaty good, alleging that they had 
been sent to the West merely to look at the country, but were 
required to return to the proper government of the tribe and 
report what they saw of it, when the king and his chiefs would 
decide, themselves, whether they would accept the treaty or 
not; affirming that this was according to the treaty itself; 
and nothing is more certain than that the king and his chiefs 
have always claimed this to have been the treaty. 

"The simple unquestionable truth is that the negro inter- 
preter, Abram, in order to secure his bribe, allowed Colonel Gads- 
den to insert the article touching the deputation, as it reads 
at this day in the treaty; but, knowing perfectly well the deter- 
mination of the king and his chiefs to remain in Florida the 
twenty years secured to them in the treaty of Camp Moultrie, 
he dared not tell them the true character of the article, but 
misinterpreted it in such a manner as to leave the chiefs under 
the impression that they were to have the ultimate decision 
with regard to their acceptance or non-acceptance of the 
treaty. This is not only in harmony with their constant 

Was Jackson a Party to the Fraud ? 8i 

declarations on the subject, persevered in against the strongest 
threats and inducements that could be held out to them to 
yield the point; but it is also in harmony with the natural 
claim of the king and his chiefs to hold in their own hands 
the power of disposing of their country. There is not the 
smallest probability that they would depute six of their tribe 
to supersede them in authority. We are obliged to suppose, 
therefore, that the interpreter mistranslated the nature of 
the article to the Indians, or — ^what is not to be imagined — 
that Colonel Gadsden himself falsified it. It is well enough to 
state this point clearly, because out of this came the longest 
and most expensive Indian war this country has ever known. 

*'It is remarkable that although this treaty was begun in 
1832, and alleged to have become completed not very long 
afterwards, President Jackson did not send it to the Senate 
for confirmation until 1834, and no attempt was made to 
execute it tintil nearly a year after that, by which time the 
Indians had almost ceased to think of it. Why was this 
delay? Did President Jackson know, or suspect, that there 
was something wrong in the history of the treaty? All of 
the circumstances go to show that the President, in view of 
his determination to remove the Indians, and not thinking 
it probable that he could obtain any other treaty, decided 
not to be over-scrupulous in the matter, and at length sent the 
fraudulent treaty to the Senate ; and as the Indians had no one 
to speak a word for them, the Senate, in a sort of matter-of- 
course way, ratified the treaty. In 1835, the treaty was sent 
to Gen. Wiley Thompson, the Indian Agent in Florida, 
with orders to announce to the Indians that in compliance 
with their treaty they must go to the West. 

**The king and his chiefs were called together at Fort 
King, but the moment they heard from the agent the object 
of the council, they loudly and earnestly denied that there 
was such a treaty as he alleged. The point of disagreement 
was upon the article in the treaty touching the deputation; 
and when they were informed that the six men sent to the West 
had signed the paper offered to them by Major Phagan, their 
authority to do so was utterly repudiated. It appeared to the 
officers of the garrison that the chiefs were entirely in the 
right; and it appeared also that the king had been kept in 

82 Fifty Years in Camp and Field 

ignorance of what the deputation had done tintil it was dis- 
closed by General Thompson. The Indians themselves, having 
been compelled to sign that paper in disobedience of the orders 
they had received, had maintained silence about it, never 
having informed the king of what they had done. At least 
this is the only rational solution of the matter. 

"Councils were then held from time to time for several 
weeks while a correspondence was being carried on between 
General Thompson and the government, in which the President 
insisted upon the execution of the treaty ; but on each occasion 
when it was presented to them they stoutly denied its validity, 
and on one occasion, while the treaty was lying open on the 
council table, Miccanopy, pointing to it, exclaimed, 'That is 
not the treaty: I never signed that treaty!' 

** 'You lie, Miccanopy,' said the agent Thompson, 'Inter- 
preter, tell him he lies, for there is his signature, ' — putting 
his finger on his mark. 

"But Miccanopy did not lie; for, although his mark was 
upon that paper, he meant only to deny that he had signed 
such a paper as was then interpreted to him. 

' ' By this time these councils had become quite boisterous, 
and a young Indian in the council named Osceola, ^ who was 

» Osceola, the famous master spirit and leader of his tribe, although 
never a chief, was bom between 1800 and 1806, on the Tallapoosa River, 
in the Creek Nation. Catlin, who painted his very spirited full-length 
portrait, with rifle in hand and calico dress and trinkets exactly as he was 
dressed to be painted five days before his death in 1838, calls him "a most 
extraordinary man, and one entitled to a better fate." "In stature," 
Catlin adds, "he is about at mediocrity, with an elastic and graceful move- 
ment; in his face he is good-looking, with rather an effeminate smile, but of 
so peculiar a character that the world may be ransacked over without finding 
another just like it. In his manners and all his movements in company 
he is polite and gentlemanly, though all his conversation is entirely in his 
own tongue ; and his general appearance and actions are those of a full -blood 
and wild Indian." His paternal grandfather, however, was a Scotchman, 
hence his (white) name, Powell. His mother was a Creek, of pure blood. 
Osceola was captured in 1837, by the treachery and falsehood of General 
Jesup, who violated his guaranty of safety when Osceola approached under 
a flag of truce, together with the king, Miccanopy, and 250 men, women, and 
children of his tribe. He was confined at Fort Moultrie, Sullivan's Island, 
South Carolina, where he died of a broken heart, Jan. 30, 1838. The account 
of his last hours is striking, as given by his attendant surgeon, Dr. Weedom : — 

' ' About half an hour before he died he seemed to be sensible that he was 
dying; and, although he could not speak, he signified by signs that he wished 

Osceola's Revenge S^ 

called in English by the name of Powell, stood up in council, 
and with much gesticulation denounced the treaty and every- 
thing done about it. This General Thompson imprudently 
construed into a disrespect to himself, and, not regarding the 
freedom of debate which the Indians are even more tenacious 
about in council than the whites, he signified his wish to the 
commanding officer to have a section of the guard placed at 
his disposal, which soon appeared, and General Thompson 
ordered the guard to seize Osceola and put him into confine- 
ment, in irons. This was accordingly done, but not without 
some difficulty, for the young Indian became frantic with rage, 
and if he had had weapons about him, it would have been very 
dangerous to approach him; but he was overpowered and 
carried to prison in irons. ^ 

"Upon this, General Thompson wrote desponding letters 
to the government, and it was uncertain for a time what was 
to be done or what could be done. Osceola, on his part, acted 
like a madman; he was perfectly furious when anybody came 
near him. After some days of frenzied violence he seemed to 
have formed his ultimate purpose and settled down into a per- 

me to send for the chiefs and for the officers of the post, whom I called in. 
He made signs to his wives (of whom he had two, and also two fine little 
children by his side) to go and bring his full dress which he wore in time of 
war; which having been brought in, he rose up in his bed, which was on the 
floor, and put on his shirt, his leggins, and moccasins, girded on his war-belt,, 
his bullet-pouch and powder-horn, and laid his knife by the side of him on 
the floor. He then called for his red paint, and his looking-glass, which was 
held before him, when he deliberately painted one half of his face, his neck 
and his throat, his wrists, the backs of his hands, and the handle of his knife 
red with vermillion, a custom practised when the irrevocable oath of war 
and destruction is taken. His knife he then placed in its sheath under his 
belt, and he carefully arranged his turban on his head and his three ostrich 
plumes that he was in the habit of wearing in it. Being thus prepared in 
full dress, he laid down a few minutes to recover strength sufficient, when 
he rose up as before and with most benignant and pleasing smiles extended 
his hand to me and to all of the officers and chiefs that were around him, 
and shook hands with us all in dead silence, and also with his wives and his 
little children. He made a signal for them to lower him down upon his 
bed, which was done, and he then slowly drew from his war-belt his scalping- 
knife, which he firmly grasped in his right hand, laying it across the other 
on his breast, and in a moment smiled away his last breath, without a strug- 
gle or a groan. " 

1 As he went to the guard-house he exclaimed: "The sun," pointing 
to its position, "is so high. I shall remember the hour. The agent has his 
day. I will have mine. " 

84 Fifty Years in Camp and Field 

feet calm. He sent word to General Thompson that he wished 
to see him, and General Thompson, having been informed of 
his quiet disposition, permitted an interview. In this inter- 
view Osceola became exceedingly submissive; acknowledged 
himself to be entirely in the wrong; apologized for what he 
had done, and asked General Thompson's forgiveness ; declared 
that he was now willing to go to the West with his people, and, 
as he had been made a sub-chief over a small band, he told 
General Thompson that if he would release him and allow him 
to go among his people, he would bring them all in, and deliver 
them to the agent. 

''General Thompson then addressed a letter to President 
Jackson direct, in which, with great exultation, he informed 
the President that all the difficulties were now overcome ; that 
Osceola had gone out to bring in his people, and that the treaty 
would be executed. But nothing was further from Osceola's 
intentions than compliance with his promises. He had re- 
sorted to them only for the purpose of gaining his liberty, 
that he might employ it in seeking revenge upon General 
Thompson for the outrage put upon him by arresting him 
for * words spoken in debate. ' 

''Osceola, being at large, armed himself, and lay in wait 
for an opportunity of taking the life of the man whom he 
regarded as the foe of his people. General Thompson had 
been in the habit of walking between the agency house and 
the fort, which were separated from each other a few hundred 
yards, with clumps of bushes here and there along the road, 
affording places of concealment. An opportunity did not 
offer itself for the execution of Osceola's purpose for some days, 
and he thought it necessary to give General Thompson some 
evidence of his fidelity, to throw him, or keep him, off his 
guard. With this object he gathered up a few of the women 
and children of his band, and exhibiting these he told General 
Thompson that his people had become so much scattered 
that he had not been able to find them, but that he would do 
so as soon as possible. General Thompson had no suspicion 
of his purpose, and allowed him to go out again; and, as he 
did not care to detain the women and children, they were 
allowed to go also. 

"A few days after this, on the 28th of December, 1835, 

Osceola's Revenge 85 

Osceola, with some of his band, concealed by bushes near the 
road leading from the fort to the agency house, saw General 
Thompson approach, accompanied by a lieutenant, Constan- 
tine Smith, and the Indians, securing their aim, at a signal 
fired, killing both the agent and his companion. Osceola 
immediately fled and took command of the Indians in the 
field, i 

*'This tragedy happened on the very day on which the 
main body of the Indians under Miccanopy waylaid Major 
Dade, who was marching up from Tampa Bay to Fort King, 
with two companies of infantry and a piece of artillery. When 
within about thirty-five miles of Fort King this body of 
troops was ambushed, and the whole party destroyed except 
three who escaped from the massacre and got back to Tampa 

*'The Indians had taken the alarm from the disclosures 
made in the coimcils at Fort King, and had banded together 
resolved to resist any attempt at a movement of troops in 
their country for their expulsion from it. Many of them knew 
the officers at Tampa Bay, and had sent them a friendly warn- 
ing not to attempt to go to Fort King. They sent word that 
they were opposed to going to war, but that they did not in- 
tend to be driven out of their country. The two companies 
nevertheless left Tampa Bay under orders for Fort King: but 
they never reached their destination. 

"Who shall now say what was the commencement of the 
Florida War? Was it begun by Colonel Gadsden? by the 
runaway negro from Pensacola? by Major Phagan? or by 
his Excellency the President of the United States? For 
certainly it did not begin with the massacre of Dade's party» 
much less with the sacrifice of General Thompson. '* 

» When he thus took command, Osceola sent out a runner to all the chiefs 
directing that no white woman or child should be harmed, "for this fight is 
between men. " 



THE Seminoles had indeed risen in defence of their homes 
and families, but not less had it become the duty — ^at 
least constructively and officially — of every soldier to 
join the army going to the front to ** suppress the insurrec- 
tion. " General Gaines and his staff moved to Pensacola on 
Jan. 20, 1836, returned to Mobile on the 26th, proceeded to 
New Orleans three days afterwards for troops, and, having as- 
sembled 1 100 men, started them on steamboats to Tampa. 
They arrived there a week later. The little army was under 
the immediate command of Col. Persifer F. Smith, with Captain 
Hitchcock as Acting Inspector-General. 

Awaiting the arrival of reinforcements at Tampa was a 
private soldier named Clark, one of the men who had escaped 
from Major F. L. Dade's ill-fated command on Dec. 28th, 
and he narrated the circumstances to General Gaines and his 
officers. Major Dade, it seemed, had left Tampa with a de- 
tachment to reinforce Fort King, some seventy-five miles 
to the northeast. Dade was a brave but cautious soldier, 
and, though seeing no hostiles and few signs of any, conducted 
his march with due care and precaution until he had crossed 
the Withlacoochee and reached his last camp, within thirty- 
five miles of his destination. He then addressed the *'boys, " 
assuring them that they had passed all danger and would soon 
be at Fort King. The morning of Dec. 28th was cold and 
uncomfortable, and Major Dade, supposing all peril passed, 
allowed his men to start on the march without throwing out 


The Dade Battle Field 87 

flankers or skirmishers and with their overcoats buttoned 
outside of their belts and cartridge-boxes. The command 
moved confidently on their way with an advance guard of 
barely six men, closely followed by Major Dade and Capt. 
Fraser, the men moving in double file behind them with one 
six-pounder. They were moving loosely, the head of the col- 
umn being a hundred yards in rear of the advance guard. 
A heavy growth of low palmetto furnished a perfect ambuscade, 
and when the company reached a point where an attack would 
be most destructive the Indians gave a yell and poured in a 
sheet of fire. 

Dade, Fraser, and the advance guard all fell in a cluster, 
close together. After this first fire the survivors took to the 
trees, getting such shelter as they could. After three or four 
hours' fighting, the Indians withdrew, suspending their fire for 
several hours. Out of the 112 officers and men composing 
Dade's command, only thirty-five were found to be living. 
These were mostly wounded, several mortally, and some many 
times, but they immediately adopted such measures of defence 
as remained possible. They cut down small pine trees and, 
laying them on each other like a rail fence, built a triangular 
pen. It was an open and most feeble structure, scarcely 
affording any shelter at all. As soon as the Indians had 
disposed of their wounded and obtained more ammunition 
they returned to their bloody work, and paused no more till 
the firing of the troops had altogether ceased. 

When the soldiers were all disabled or out of ammunition, 
the Seminoles sent into the pen a body of their armed negro 
slaves, who put to death every man showing any signs of Hfe. 
Among these wounded was Clark, who had received no less 
than seven wounds, covering him with blood and disfiguring 
him for life. With extraordinary presence of mind and self- 
control he affected death. A negro gave him a push with his 
foot and, saying in good English **He 's dead enough," left 
him alive. The wounded man lay perfectly still among the 
dead till darkness set in, when he crawled out of the bloody 
pen and started for Tampa. The Indians had taken their 
guns and ammunition, so that he was unarmed. He shortly 
fell in with another of his companions and they hurried for- 
ward together. Finding that they were followed they divided, 

88 Fifty Years in Camp and Field 

and when Clark had hidden in a palmetto swamp he heard 
the crack of the Indian's rifle that told of the death of his 
companion. Clark evaded his cunning pursuers and ultimately 
reached Tampa Bay, barely alive, feeble to the last degree 
with lack of food and loss of blood. 

As soon as the news of the massacre was received in Wash- 
ington, Gen. Winfield Scott was assigned to conduct an 
expedition against the Seminoles, and immediately gave the 
necessary orders for assembling troops to penetrate the country 
by way of St. John's River on the north, making his first 
head-quarters at Piccolata. 

Unfortunately for harmonious co-operation, the division 
between the departments under command of General Scott 
and General Gaines respectively was an imaginary line running 
from the southern extremity of Florida to the western end 
of Lake Superior. Tampa Bay was within the jurisdiction 
of General Gaines, and he at once took measures for its protec- 
tion. But the government had chosen General Scott to 
conduct the war against the Seminoles, and the larger portion 
of the field of operations lay within his department. As 
soon as he heard of General Gaines's preparations, he sent him 
an order to desist from any movement. General Gaines was 
much annoyed at this, and arranged to return at once to 
New Orleans, meantime counselling with his staff. 

Captain Hitchcock says in his diary that he "took the liberty 
of advising General Gaines that he could not in fairness aban- 
don the volunteers who had been enlisted at his request ; that, 
if he left the command, the troops would be disorganized, as 
there was no other officer of rank known to them of sufficient 
influence to hold them effectually together ; and that General 
Scott must naturally desire to have a body of troops at Tampa 
Bay, south of the hostile Indians near Fort King, whom he 
could attack in his own way from the north. These considera- 
tions prevailed with General Gaines. " 

Shortly after arriving at Tampa Bay, General Gaines or- 
dered a movement of the troops for the next morning. Captain 
Hitchcock "felt convinced that the movement would be in- 
judicious, knowing that General Gaines intended to go towards 
Fort King. " Being considerably troubled about it, he found 
an early opportunity to urge General Gaines not to go towards 

Details of Ambush 89 

Fort King, setting forth that General Scott would prefer to 
have this force at Tampa Bay or east of it to intercept the 
Indians in their retreat ; and dwelt especially on the probability 
that General Scott would find it extremely difficult to furnish 
supplies for his own force, without having General Gaines away 
from his own base and depending on him also. This advice 
to General Gaines was repeated several times most earnestly, 
and to it was added the suggestion that General Gaines and 
General Scott might pass each other in the wilderness if they 
should happen to take different paths. The counsel of Captain 
Hitchcock had some effect, and General Gaines next morning 
reluctantly turned his march eastward toward the center of 
Florida instead of up the coast. But on the third morning he re- 
sumed his former purpose and wheeled the column northward, 
striking the road to Fort King. The march was flanked and 
menaced by hostile Indians who burnt the woods ahead of the 
column, which, in turn, burnt the Indian villages along the line. 
Captain Hitchcock and Lieutenant Izard on Colonel Twiggs's 
staff kept ahead of the advance guard in an exposed position, 
till General Gaines, thinking that they lacked that discretion 
which is said to be the better part of valor, ordered them to 
join their commands. The two branches of the Withlacoochee 
were crossed, and about seven weeks after the Dade massacre 
the expedition of General Gaines arrived at the site of that 
tragedy. Captain Hitchcock wrote the official account of 
this reconnaissance of the battle-ground which is found in the 
War archives as follows: 

"Western Department, 
"Fort King, Florida, February 22, 1836. 

** General: — Agreeably to your directions, I observed 
the battle ground six or seven miles north of the Withlacoochee 
River, where Major Dade and his command were destroyed 
by the Seminole Indians on the 28th of December last, and 
have the honor to submit the following report : 

"The force under your command which arrived at this 
post to-day from Tampa Bay encamped on the night of the 
19th inst. on the ground occupied by Major Dade on the night 
of the 27th of December. He and his party were destroyed 
on the morning of the 28th of December, about four miles in 

90 Fifty Years in Camp and Field 

advance of that position. He was advancing towards this 
post, and was attacked from the north, so that on the 20th 
inst. we came upon the rear of his battle-ground about nine 
o'clock in the morning. Our advanced guard had passed the 
ground without halting, when the General and his staff came 
upon one of the most appalling scenes that can be imagined. 
We first saw some broken and scattered boxes; then a cart, 
the two oxen of which were lying dead, as if they had fallen 
asleep, their yokes still on them; a little to the right, one or 
two horses were seen. We then came to a small enclosure, 
made by felling trees in such a manner as to form a triangular 
breastwork for defence. Within the triangle, along the north 
and wxst faces of it, were about thirty bodies, mostly mere 
skeletons, although much of the clothing was left upon them. 
These were lying, almost every one of them, in precisely the 
position they must have occupied during the fight — their heads 
next to the logs over which they had delivered their fire, and 
their bodies stretched with striking regularity parallel to each 
other. They had evidently been shot dead at their posts, 
and the Indians had not disturbed them, except by taking the 
scalps of most of them. Passing this little breastwork we 
found other bodies along the road, and by the side of the road, 
generally behind trees which had been resorted to for covers 
from the enemy's fire. Advancing about 200 yards further 
we found a cluster of bodies in the middle of the road. These 
were evidently the advanced guard, in the rear of which 
was the body of Major Dade, and to the right, that of Captain 

"These were all doubtless shot down on the first fire of the 
Indians, except, perhaps, Captain Fraser, who must, however, 
have fallen very early in the fight. Those in the road and by 
the trees fell during the first attack. It was during a cessation 
of the fire that the little band still remaining, about thirty 
in number, threw up the triangular breastwork, which, from 
the haste with which it was constructed, was necessarily 
defective, and could not protect the men in the second 

"We had with us many of the personal friends of the 
officers of Major Dade's command, and it is gratifying to be 
able to state that every officer was identified by undoubted 

Eight Officers and Ninety-Eight Men 91 

e\?idence. They were buried, and the cannon, a six-pounder, 
that the Indians had thrown into a swamp, was recovered 
and placed vertically at the head of the grave, where it is to 
be hoped it will long remain. The bodies of the non-commis- 
sioned officers and privates were buried in two graves, and it 
was found that every man was accounted for. The command 
was composed of eight officers and one hundred and two non- 
commissioned officers and privates. The bodies of eight 
officers and ninety-eight men were interred, four men having 
escaped ; three of whom reached Tampa Bay : the fourth was 
killed the day after the battle. 

"It may be proper to observe, that the attack was not 
made from a hammock, but in a thinly wooded country; 
the Indians being concealed by palmetto and grass, which 
has since been burned. 

"The two companies w^ere Captain Eraser's, of the Third 
Artillery, and Captain Gardiner's, of the Second Artillery. 
The officers were Major Dade, of the Fourth Infantry, Captains 
Fraser and Gardiner, Second Lieutenant Bassinger, brevet 
Second Lieutenants R. Henderson, Mudge, and Keais, of the 
artillery, and Dr. J. S. Gatlin. 

**I have the honor to be, with the highest respect, your 
obedient servant, 

(Signed) "E. A. Hitchcock, 
''Captain ist Infantry, Act. InspW General. 

** Major Gen. Edmund P. Gaines, 

''Commanding Western Department, 
"Fort King, Florida." 

Captain Hitchcock further says in his diary: 
"A proof that the Indians had done this deed reluctantly 
is the fact that very little of the clothing of the men had been 
removed and few had been scalped — ^these, probably, by the 
negroes, as Clark recalled their movements. The wolf had 
not made them his prey: the vulture only had visited them. 
We buried them all, and, at my suggestion, the cannon, a six- 
pounder, was placed over the graves. The officers* features 
could not be discerned, but they were identified by various 
articles found upon them, which, strange to say, the Indians had 
left. A breastpin was found on Lieutenant Fraser, a finger 

92 Fifty Years in Camp and Field 

ring on Lieutenant Mudge, a pistol upon Lieutenant Keais, 
a stock on Doctor Gatlin, a map on Captain Gardiner, and a 
net shirt on Lieutenant Bassinger. Major Dade and Lieutenant 
Henderson were known by their teeth. The divisions of our 
little column were allowed to move up in succession and view 
the melancholy scene." 



THE arrival of General Gaines at Fort King was a surprise, 
as the small garrison was expecting relief only from the 
north. Now at once began the trouble about provis- 
ions. There was nothing to spare at Fort King, and very little 
at Fort Drane, a small post twenty miles northwest. General 
Scott had arrived at Piccolata, nearly loo miles north on the 
St. John's, and was greatly astonished and somewhat irritated 
when he heard of the arrival at Fort King of General Gaines, 
whom he had directed not to advance. 

General Gaines was now in a serious difficulty. Being un- 
provisioned, he could not stay there, and therefore, obtain- 
ing from Fort Drane a few days* supplies of rations, he started 
back towards Tampa Bay. Making a detour to the west on 
the second day out he was attacked by Indians at Wahoo 
swamp on the Withlacoochee and there the gallant and pro- 
mising young Izard was killed. The Indians quite surrounded 
the camp, and in the next day or two killed several men and 
wounded more than thirty. Among the latter General Games 
was included, the bullet passing through his lower lip and 
tearing away two of his teeth. *'The first words he spoke, 
after catching the teeth inhis hand,*' says Captain Hitchcock, 
"were, 'It is mean of the redskins to knock out my teeth when 
I have so few!* *' The Indians soon withdrew. 

"Nothing of importance occurred within the next three 
or four days,** says the diary, **when, in the evening, the 
camp was hailed from the south side of the river, and the 
Indians, through Abram and other negroes who spoke English, 


94 Fifty Years in Camp and Field 

expressed a wish to have a talk with General Gaines. They 
were told to come next day. At ten o'clock in the morning 
some half a dozen of them approached the camp from its 
rear, unarmed and under a white flag, and I was directed by 
General Gaines to meet them. I took an orderly and went to 
the interview. Among the visitors I found Osceola, 'Alli- 
gator,' and a chief called Jumper who did the talking for 
the Indians. He said the Indians did not want fighting; 
they wanted peace; enough men had been killed. If white 
men came to plant, they said, they wished to know it; but 
they wanted the troops to go away. I tried to persuade them 
to go into the camp and talk with the General, but they de- 
clined. He must come out and meet them on neutral ground, 
they said. When I asked them to come the next day, they 
expressed a wish to make peace at once, and not put it off, 
a smart negro suggesting that we might have armed friends 
coming, and they too might have friends out, and these would 
fire on each other, and 'there have been enough killed' they 
kept repeat mg. I reported to the General, who told me to 
state explicitly the large force coming and the certainty of 
their being crushed if they persisted. 

"I went out and made a long talk, enlarging on the merits 
of General Gaines, his willingness to do them justice, the bleed- 
ing of his heart for their sufferings, etc., telling them that 5000 
soldiers were coming, some from one place, some from another, 
with supplies of all kinds that had been massing on the borders 
of their country for two months, and that any Indian found 
with a rifle in his hand would be shot. I then soothed them 
a little by adding, what, indeed, I believed, that no doubt 
they thought they had suffered great wrong, but that, if so, 
they had had satisfaction. Osceola spoke up and said, *I am 
satisfied, ' and this was all he said in the council. The fact 
is, they have been abused. They listened very attentively 
to my talk, and their appearance indicated their entire 

**They said they would go and hold counsel and return in 
the afternoon. At about 4 p.m. they came in the same order 
to the same place. I met them. They spoke much of the 
loss of men killed ; said blood enough had been shed, and they 
wished to put a stop to it. They added that they wished to 

Jealousy of Generals 95 

consult their head chief, Miccanopy, who was absent at a 
distance. They asked for a cessation of the war. 

"I told them that General Gaines had no authority to talk 
with them, but that another officer was coming from the Presi- 
dent, with authority to treat, and he would see them if they 
would go on the other side of the river and remain perfectly 
quiet till sent for. They promised to do so. " 

Meantime provisions were exhausted at Camp Izard. Gen- 
eral Gaines sent back a letter to General Scott, supposed to have 
arrived at Fort Drane by this time, suggesting that if he would 
forward some rations and then march himself across the river 
above the swamp, they could between them destroy the whole 
tribe. Scott was still at Piccolata, and, being incensed at 
Gaines's disobedience of orders, sent an order to Colonel Clinch 
at Fort Drane, not to send any supplies to General Gaines. Col- 
onel Clinch at once disobeyed this order, and took the liberty of 
driving forty head of cattle down to the Wahoo swamp, where 
General Gaines was still waiting for General Scott at **Camp 
Izard'* as he named it, and his half-starved men were eating 
up the last of their horses. Some had eaten nothing for two 
or three days. ^ The relief was timely, and General Scott's 
order had evidently been sent on insufficient information. 
With Colonel Clinch came Colonel Gadsden, the author of the 
treaty which the Seminoles were contesting. 

The question was where to go next. "The truth is," 
says Captain Hitchcock in his diary, ''that the whole difficulty 
resulted from General Gaines having made an injudicious move- 
ment and placed himself and his command out of position." 
A council of the principal officers was held, at which it was 
decided to march back to Fort Drane, and the movement 
was made the next day. 

Soon after reaching Fort Drane, on March i ith. General 
Scott made his appearance from the north. "The meeting 
between the two generals was cold in the extreme," Captain 
Hitchcock records. ' ' No civilities or courtesies passed between 
them. They sat opposite to each other at table without any 
salutations on either side. The aids, however, conversed 
wit each other. I called on the 13th and had some conversa- 

> Hitchcock's diary: "I tasted a piece of horse liver and found it very 

gS Fifty Years in Camp and Field 

tion with General Scott. He exhibited much anxiety about the 

* difficulties' he had to contend with, enumerated a great many, 
putting on a bold face, however, by saying that he was the 
man who was able to defend himself at all times and places, 

* with any weapon from a goose-quill up. ' He said his supplies 
had been consumed by the army of General Gaines. 

* 'Left Fort Drane with General Gaines on March 1 4 and rode 
1 50 miles through the woods on horseback six days to Talla- 
hassee. The people turned out en masse to receive the General. 
They had heard that General Scott had refused him supplies and 
were very indignant. The General declined a public dinner, 
and next day he and I took stage for the West. Paused at 
Pensacola and Mobile. Highly exaggerated accounts of our 
suffering had arrived, and my brother's family were almost 
prepared to hear of our deaths by massacre or starvation. 
The General declined public dinners and honors at Mobile 
and New Orleans and took me with him to the Mexican fron- 
tier — Natchitoches. "^ 

This was some 200 miles northwest of New Orleans and 
twenty miles from the Texan frontier. 

The close of the campaign is thus described by Captain 
Hitchcock : 

" During the time in which General Scott was preparing for 
a movement from Fort Drane against the Indians the Indians 
never fired a rifle; affording some evidence that, whatever 
expectations they might have formed as to the result of a 
council, they must have expected an invitation from General 
Scott to meet him in a talk. But General Scott appears to 
have had the idea that no good could result from a conference 
with them, and he would not send for them. When ready for 
his movement he set out on the road which led to the Camp 
of General Gaines. But his rear had hardly left the vicinity 
of Fort Drane when the Indians attacked it and cut off three 
of his baggage wagons; and from that time they manifested 

» As evincing Captain Hitchcock's mental tendencies at this time, the fol- 
lowing is copied from his ever-present diary: "Met an old friend living in 
poverty near Baton Rouge. She expressed thankfulness to Providence for 
the blessings she had enjoyed. I wondered what they were. Her husband 
first spent her property, then became a drunkard and died, leaving her in a 
strange country nearly 2000 miles from all her friends, where for ten years 
she had struggled for daily dread for herself and her children. " 

Departure for the Texan Frontier 9? 

their hostile disposition to the utmost extent of their power. 
General Scott marched through the country to Tampa Bay 
and returned thence over the Fort King road without in reality 
accomplishing any beneficial result toward bringing the war 
to an end; and the two Generals, Scott and Gaines, were 
brought together at the town of Frederick in Maryland by 
order of the President, where their campaigns underwent the 
searching investigation of a court of inquiry, but without 
producing any sensible effect upon public opinion.** 



PLANT corn!** 

IN camp near Natchitoches in Louisiana, April 12, 1836, 
Captain Hitchcock's diary contains these preliminary- 

** Alarms are started in every direction for the obvious 
purpose of inducing or compelling General Gaines to march into 
Texas. I have repeatedly told him they are mostly unfounded 
and have traced many of them to their source. . . . General 
Gaines thinks, as most of us do, that the country of Texas 
ought to be purchased from Mexico by the United States." 

The events which followed are so interesting and impor- 
tant that the narrative of his experiences can best be given 
in Captain Hitchcock's own words six months later: 

**When Genera Gainesl was superseded by General Scott 
and retired from Florida I went with him as Inspector-General 
to the Sabine frontier. Texas had recently declared her inde- 
pendence of Mexico, and it was reported that Santa Anna, 
the President of Mexico, was approaching Texas with an army 
of 30,000 men, to reduce that revolted state to submission. 
The President of the United States thought it proper to have 
an officer of rank near the border to preserve neutrality and 
protect the rights of our own people, and he had selected 
General Gaines for that purpose. 

"There had been a time when the Spaniards had consider- 
able settlements in Texas, particularly at San Antonio in the 
western part, and they had even established some villages 
on both sides of the Sabine, a few miles from the river. But 


Independence of Texas 99 

after the separation of Mexico from Spain (in 1824), these 
frontier settlements, being much exposed to depredations 
from Indians, became almost depopulated, and the remaining 
inhabitants partially amalgamated with the Indians. The 
southern part of the state was almost entirely without popula- 
tion — ^an immense wilderness. 

**At this juncture Stephen F. Austin, of Connecticut, went 
to the city of Mexico and obtained from the government a 
patent for a large tract of land in Texas, with the privilege of 
inviting emigrants from the United States, — a vital condition, 
however, being the permanent adherence of Texas to the Re- 
public of Mexico. Colonel Austin's efforts to establish a colony 
in Texas were soon crowned with success. Towns sprang up 
in many places, farmers came in and settled, the land was 
cultivated and the population rapidly increased. The govern- 
ment of the state was of course according to the constitution 
of Mexico. Everything appeared to be progressing favorably ; 
but in other parts of Mexico dissensions had grown up, mostly 
on account of the pronunciamento of Santa Anna declaring 
that in future the governors of the states should be appointed 
by the President and should no longer be elected by the people 

"This was most decidedly an unconstitutional and revolu- 
tionary act of an extreme character. As might be expected, 
three or four of the states publicly pronounced against it, and 
among them the state of Texas. The people of Texas in con- 
vention assembled denied the authority of Santa Anna to 
abrogate the constitution of the republic and declared them- 
selves free from all the obligations accepted by Colonel Austin 
connecting them with the Republic of Mexico, on account of 
the remarkable act of its executive officer. The state of 
Zacatecas also declared her independence. 

** Santa Anna raised an army of some 20,000 men and ad- 
vanced towards the north ; and after the reduction of Zacatecas, 
which, it was said, was effected by money and not by force 
of arms, he continued his march northward. Entering Texas 
he invested a dismantled fort near San Antonio called the 
Alamo. There were in the Alamo less than 140 Americans, 
including the celebrated David Crockett, the bear-hunter, 
and an ex-member of Congress, and also the celebrated Bowie, 

loo Fifty Years in Camp and Field 

said to be the inventor of the knife which bears his name. 
This small body of Americans held Santa Anna's army at bay 
for several weeks, suffering slight loss while inflicting a loss 
it is said of 1600. At last, when starvation had become an 
ally of the Mexican, the Alamo was stormed and its occupants 
were all put to death, including six men who had formally 

* ' Near the coast a body of some 500 men had been organized 
to 'resist the invader', under Colonel Fannin, who had marched 
most of them from Mobile and took position at Goliad, just 
before Santa Anna crossed the Rio Grande. Here they found 
themselves entirely out of position, beyond the possibility 
of receiving support. During the siege of the Alamo, Colonel 
Fannin attempted to leave Goliad and join the forces in the 
east, but found himself surrounded on a prairie by a large 
body of Mexican cavalry. He selected a position in the open 
country, but soon found it untenable. When satisfied that 
he could not possibly maintain himself longer, a truce was 
had, followed by a conference with the enemy, and the Mexican 
general signed an agreement by which he undertook to send 
Fannin's party of 500 men out of the country by sea to Mobile, 
on condition of surrender. Fannin delivered up his command. 

"The Mexican commander, upon reporting his success 
to Santa Anna, received an order to shoot the whole party 
as rebels. This order he expressly declined to obey, urging 
his obligations in point of honor under his agreement with 
Fannin. Santa Anna then superseded him and his successor 
executed the order the morning after his arrival at Goliad, 
marching all the prisoners out in file to a place selected for 
their execution. Two or three near the rear of the part}^ 
suspecting danger, broke and ran for their lives, followed by 
a dozen or twenty others. All of these were recaptured and 
shot excepting three who succeeded in reaching the 'timber.' 
One of these, named Murphy, finally made his way to the army 
of General Houston. 

"By this time a good many people were crossing the Sabine 
into Texas, moved by the same sympathetic impulse that had 
caused the presence of Fannin's men in the far-off town of 
Goliad. From the Southern States especially they were moving 
westward, individually and in small parties, and making their 

Massacres of the Alamo and Goliad loi 

way to Texas, armed and equipped for war, though very few 
of them knew upon what principle the war could be defended. 
John Quincy Adams in the House of Representatives took 
occasion to refer to this in a speech opposing the war, de- 
scribing a solitary individual making his way with long strides 
through Kentucky with rifle on his shoulder and bullets in 
his belt, who, in reply to the question where he was going, 
answered, ' To Texas. ' To the further question 'What for?' 
he answered defiantly, *To fight for my rights!* Under 
this vague notion of fighting for their rights, the Texans 
were being continuously but not very numerously re- 

"After committing the atrocities I have detailed, Santa 
Anna moved a large body of his cavalry towards the Brazos 
River to find the enemy. Passing to a point lower down the 
river than that occupied by the Texans, he crossed with the 
intention of passing to the rear of Houston. The latter, 
however, had watched his movements carefully by means of 
expert lookouts, and when Santa Anna was fairly over the 
river, Houston broke up his position on the Brazos and, 
without being discovered, succeeded in getting immediately 
in the rear of Santa Anna. The fugitive Murphy had arrived 
in camp and fired the hearts of the Texans by detailing the 
horrible massacre of Fannin, and they had also received news 
of the slaughter of the Alamo. At daybreak next morning 
Houston was within striking distance of the Mexican Presi- 
dent and at once his people — ^hardly to be called an army — fell 
upon Santa Anna's force with the cry, 'Remember the Alamo 
and the Goliad ! ' Santa Anna was taken entirely by surprise, 
his men being at their morning coffee. The victory was com- 
plete. Some 600 of the enemy were killed and some 600 
or 700 taken prisoners, including the Mexican President. 
This was the only serious battle fought for the independence 
of Texas. 

"General Gaines had arrived on the Sabine River with a 
single regiment of United States infantry, a few weeks prior to 
these events. He knew of the position of General Houston 
on the Brazos, and of the advance of Santa Anna into Texas 
with his powerful army; but beyond these facts he knew next 
to nothing of the state of affairs beyond his immediate 

102 Fifty Years in Camp and Field 

front. My official duties required me to take note of our 

"Apparently every male inhabitant of Texas capable of 
bearing arms had joined Houston, leaving homes unprotected 
and defenceless. In this state of things some scoundrels 
raised the cry of ' Indian massacre, ' and it spread along the 
Sabine and through the adjoining country. The alarm was 
supported by plausibility also, for there were many Indians 
at that time in the neighborhood and they had injuries to 
resent which might induce them to avenge themselves upon 
helpless people. This drove across the Sabine great nimibers 
of women and children, who fell under the protection of Gene- 
ral Gaines. Their temporary camps, made of sheets and bed- 
quilts spread from tree to tree, extended up and down the 
river some twenty miles or more, presenting a very picturesque 
but extremely painful spectacle. 

"Most of the fugitives seemed to be remarkably cheerful. 
One day as General Gaines, surrounded by his staff, passed 
through one of these camps, a tall, muscular woman standing 
upon a log swung her arm as we went by and shouted, * What 
a fine chance for a camp-meeting if we only had a preacher!' 
Many of their deserted homes had been pillaged. The un- 
founded alarm had been started for one of three purposes — 
perhaps for all : speculators wished to purchase property at a 
reduced price ; vagabonds wished to plunder abandoned habi- 
tations ; and a band of political intriguers wished to make an 
occasion for General Gaines to march into Texas. 

"I felt misplaced upon the Sabine. I regarded the whole 
of our proceedings in the Southwest as being wicked, so far as 
the United States were concerned. Our own people provoked 
the war with Mexico and prosecuted it, not for 'liberty* but 
for land, and I felt averse to being made an instrument for 
such purposes. 

"As the General was unable to obtain any satisfactory 
information, he determined to open communication with both 
Santa Anna and Houston under a white flag, and I received 
orders to bear it with a mounted party of forty men. He 
had not then heard of any battle, and the letter addressed to 
both of the warriors was a simple caution that in case they 
should approach the border of the United States it was expected 

**Let the People Plant Corn " 103 

of them that they would carefully respect its neutrality. I 
was highly pleased with this mission, and made my prepara- 
tions to start on a certain morning early in May. Everything 
was got ready, when, the evening before I was to set out, a 
common-looking countr3mian came in from the west and 
presented himself to General Gaines. He handed to him two 
small letters purporting to have been written, one by General 
Houston with a pencil, the other in ink by Mr. Rust, the 
Texan Secretary of War. The writing from General Houston 
was on a little slip of paper not much larger than my hand, 
and was not addressed to anybody in particular. It merely 
announced his complete victory over Santa Anna, and con- 
cluded with the words 'Let the people plant corn. Sam 
Houston.' " 



THE news of the great battle and victory and the capture 
of Santa Anna caused the wildest excitement at the 
camp near Natchitoches, and General Gaines resolved 
to forward it to Washington by the most rapid conveyance 
at hand. The diarist thus tells the story of how Jackson 
got the news: 

"General Gaines claimed to know perfectly well the hand- 
writing of Houston and declared that the note was genuine. 
The memorandtim from Secretary Rust was a little more 
formal in its statement and was written in a fair hand with 
which none of us were acquainted. The General was satisfied 
of the correctness of the news, and immediately decided to 
change my mission, directing me to proceed immediately to 
Washington city with the two notes and place them in the 
hands of President Jackson. 

**I set off at once, leaving Camp Sabine May lo, 1836, 
directly after breakfast. I found that the ordinary mail route 
through upper Georgia was interrupted on account of the Creek 
Indians having broken out into hostilities; and although the 
capture of a mail coach and the murder of its passengers, 
which had just occurred, was disavowed by the chiefs, the 
outrage put a temporary stop to travel through the Creek 
country. Accordingly, on arriving at Mobile, I, with other 
passengers, selected instead the southern, or what was called 
the * Alligator Route,* and took a steamer for Pensacola to 
that end. This route crossed the Appalachicola River at the 


Perils of the Alligator Route 105 

confluence of the Chattahoochee and Flint Rivers, and thence 
trended eastward, leaving the hostile Indians to the north 
and west of us. 

"On arriving at Pensacola, however, the whole town was 
found in great commotion because a messenger had just 
reached there from the town of Helena upon the Alligator 
Route, and reported that the Indians were coming down the 
country murdering and burning and leaving devastation in 
their path. He had been sent to ask for assistance. This 
caused a great excitement among the passengers, most of 
whom immediately resolved to return to New Orleans. I 
asked to see the messenger and he was brought to me. It 
was obvious that he was greatly scared and excited, but he 
seemed to have no fact of importance to base his alarming 
conclusions on. Among the passengers was a Scotchman 
named Anderson, whom I found to be a very clever fellow 
and a most intelligent and agreeable companion. He came 
to me after I had questioned the messenger and asked me 
what I meant to do. I told him that it was impossible to 
know from the statements of the messenger whether there 
was any danger or not, but that I should continue until the 
mail should be stopped. 

** 'Well,' said he, *If you go, I shall go with you.' 

**I told him that I had important dispatches for the govern- 
ment, and that it was a point of duty to go on with them, and 
I advised him to determine his course without any reference 
to me. He repeated that if I decided to continue on the 
journey he should go with me. I was glad to have his 

"All the other passengers left the boat and the steamer 
got under way northward, Mr. Anderson and myself sole 
passengers. We had a delightful passage across Pensacola 
Sound, with the pleasantest possible weather, and landed late 
in the evening where we found a post-coach ready to receive 
us. We started in the coach about ten o'clock at night. The 
sky was clear and the stars bright, and Mr. Anderson took a 
seat with the coachman, where he amused himself singing songs 
until I fell asleep within the coach. About midnight the 
coach stopped suddenly, which awakened me and I called 
out asking what was the matter. 

io6 Fifty Years in Camp and Field 

** *A light ahead, * answered Mr. Anderson, *and we don't 
know what it means. * 

* * The coachman declared there was no one living on the 
road there. I answered that I did not think one small twinkle 
in the distance amounted to much at any rate, and told the 
driver to drive ahead and find out what it was. We soon 
found it was a family fleeing from the country on account of 
the Indian uprising. The head of the family could give us 
no further information and we continued on our journey. 

''Next day before noon we reached the town of Helena, 
where the people were greatly alarmed and busily engaged 
*forting-in' as it was called. They had cut logs twenty feet 
long and were setting them up in a stockade around the town, 
leaving loopholes to fire through. This makes a pretty good 
sort of defence against Indians, whose mode of warfare rarely 
induces them to make an attack on a place having the least 
appearance of an artificial defence. Instances have been 
known where half a dozen men, protected by a little earth 
thrown up in a few minutes in the night, have held at bay a 
hundred Indians all day and then escaped. Indians, in fact, 
are very timid warriors where there is any necessity of exposing 

**We could get no positive information at Helena, but the 
inhabitants were evidently badly frightened. Ten miles 
farther on we stopped for a change of horses, but the new 
driver stood sullenly with his hands in his pockets refusing 
to go ahead. He declared that the Indians were in possession 
of the road between us and the Appalachicola, and that if we 
attempted to proceed, we should be cut off and all scalped, 
adding that he did not mean to expose his life for twenty 
dollars a month. Anderson and I fell upon him with words 
and finally shamed him into doing his duty, and he mounted 
the box and drove on. An immense swamp covered the last 
mile of our journey, before reaching the river, and the driver 
insisted that this swamp would be filled with Indians. I had 
with me a pair of pistols and a sword, and, giving Mr. Anderson 
one of the pistols, we drove into the swamp, though it has 
often occurred to me that pistols would not be likely to afford 
much protection in such a case as the driver apprehended. 
Until this moment Mr. Anderson's cheerfulness and good hu- 

The Last Coach Through 107 

mor had not the least abated throughout the journey, which 
he had frequently enlivened with songs, having an excellent 
voice and a good deal of taste in music. He also exulted 
over his friends who had turned back to New Orleans and 
laughed heartily in anticipation of beating them to New York. 
But as we entered the swamp we both became silent, for a 
sense of our utter helplessness in case of an attack could hardly 
fail to impress us alike. Darkness had also fallen, which 
increased the seriousness of the situation. At length, how- 
ever, we reached the right bank of the river without having 
been saluted with an Indian yell. 

"We were obliged to call loudly for the ferryman, but he 
at length came from the other side of the river and conveyed 
us across; and now Mr. Anderson broke into most joyous 
expressions on account of having safely passed all danger. 
But Mr. Boniface stepped up saying, * Don't be in a hurry, 
sir ; you have the greatest danger of all yet before you. * And 
he proceeded to describe a place on the road farther north 
where it was crossed by the great Indian trail over which 
hostiles were continually passing making their way from the 
Creek nation down into Florida. This was by no means cheer- 
ful intelligence to any of us, but, not to dwell longer upon 
unrealized perils, we safely continued our journey over the 
dangerous trail, and, after five days and nights of constant 
travel in a post-coach, we reached Augusta, and thence easily 
made our way north. 

*' That was the last coach that came through. I reached 
Washington city^ three weeks in advance of the mail, my 
trip by the Alligator Route being the last that was made until 
the Indian disturbances were at an end. 

" The hour I reached the capital I presented myself at 
the White House and sent my card to President Jackson, an- 
nouncing myself as bringing dispatches from General Gaines. 
I had already discovered that there was intense anxiety among 

» Captain Hitchcock was three weeks in making this journey from the 
Texas frontier to Washington with the news for President Jackson, but orders 
issued by the War Department to General Jackson, on July 14, 18 14, to cap- 
ture Pensacola, were six months in reaching him, arriving four months after 
he had captured the town and three months after the order to capture it had 
been countermanded! 

io8 Fifty Years in Camp and Field 

the people everywhere to hear from the Southwest, and was 
not stirprised at being instantly admitted. I was warmly 
greeted by the President, and delivered to him the two 
notes from Houston and Rust, with a brief note from 
General Gaines. The note from General Houston read 

'* * San Jacinto, 26th April, 1836. 

"'Tell our friends all the news. That we have beat the enemy, 
killed 630 and taken 570 prisoners. Generals Santa Anna and 
Cos are taken, and three generals slain — vast amount of property 
taken and about 1500 stand of arms, many swords and one 9- 
pound brass cannon. Tell them to come on and let the people 
plant com. 

'"Samuel Houston, 

** * Commander-in-Chief. ' 

** I am not sure that I ever saw a man more delighted than 
President Jackson appeared to be at the reception of these 
notes. If there had been a vacancy in the dragoons at that 
time I think he would have given it to me on the spot. He 
read both the notes over and over, but dwelt particularly 
upon that from Houston, exclaiming as if talking to himself : 
*Yes! that *s his writing! I know it well!^ That 's his writ- 
ing! That 's Sam Houston's writing! There can be no doubt 
of the truth of what he states!' Then he ordered a map, 
got down over it, and looked in vain for the unknown rivulet 
called San Jacinto. He passed his finger excitedly over the 
map in search of the name, saying: 'It must be there! No, 
it must be over there!' moving his finger around but finally 
giving up the search. 

** The President expressed himself openly in favor of Texas 
and insisted in fact that the river Nueces was our boundary, 2 
scouting the idea of any reference to Melish's map (as if those 

« Undoubtedly he knew it well. Houston, like David Crockett, killed 
at the Alamo, was from Tennessee, and both had been members of Congress 
from that State, and both had fought under Jackson in his war against the 

'Although our treaty with Mexico, Jan. 12, 1828, explicitly fixed the 
Sabine River as the permanent boundary between the two countries, and 
this has never been modified. 

How General Jackson Got the News 109 

who made the treaty knew nothing about it) , and insisted on 
the principle that no treaty could yield any portion of our 
territory. This last may be correct, but the former is no 
reason at all. I called a second time to see the President to 
speak with him concerning the Florida campaign, but found 
him surrounded by politicians and gave it up. 

** The news I had brought quite electrified the country, 
being immediately published far and wide. 

' ' I heard it said before I left Washington that the acquisi- 
tion of Texas by the United States was a darling object with 
certain politicians of the South, and that Jackson himself 
had originally advised Houston to emigrate to Texas having 
in view a possible rupture with Mexico and the final annex- 
ation of Texas to the United States. 

" * My connection with General Gaines had been a tempor- 
ary one, and I was not expected to return to him. I may add 
here that the General, on hearing of the capture of Santa Anna, 
addressed a letter to Houston, urging, in the strongest terms, 
that no violence should be done to him because of the massacre 
of the Alamo. He also addressed a civil letter to Santa Anna 
himself. The Texan chiefs soon discovered how they could 
make a better use of Santa Anna than by putting him to 
death. They made a formal treaty with him, prisoner though 
he was, by which, in consideration of his being allowed to 
pass through the United States, he agreed to order the remain- 
der of his troops to leave Texas immediately and further con- 
tracted that he would acknowledge the independence of the 
State — or would advise it on his arrival in Mexico, I do not 
remember precisely the terms. He gave the order at once 
for the removal of his troops, and it was obeyed. 

**It must be admitted, in conclusion, that, while Santa Anna 
pursued the worst policy in the world in his barbarous treat- 
ment of prisoners of war, Houston pursued the very best in 
restraining the strong impulse to take the life of the blood- 
thirsty Mexican miscreant. It is always dangerous to give 
an enemy a battle-cry such as 'Remember the Alamo. ' '* 


"like DIS country berry well." a WICKED WAR WITH 

DURING June, 1836, Captain Hitchcock had several inter- 
views with President Jackson and his Secretary of War. 
Lewis Cass, and explained and vigorously defended 
the conduct and movements of General Gaines on the With- 
lacoochee in Florida. The reason, he said, why the General 
did not cross the river and fight the Seminoles was ** because he 
feared it would merely disperse them and drive them to the 
Everglades, postponing peace, instead of hastening its arrival. *' 
The Florida Indians were not in a temper to be managed 
arbitrarily or to be driven angrily out of the home of their 
fathers. Captain Hitchcock illustrated this by repeating to 
the President the interview of General Jesup with Chief 
*' Jumper' ' in trying to enforce the fraudulent "treaty ** of 1832. 
Jesup was arrogant : 

"Tell him," he said to the negro interpreter, "that they 
must all go to their new country. " 

The interpreter repeated the command and the chief's 
answer. "Well, massa, he say he like dis country berry well 
an no wants leab um. " 

"But tell him," pursued the General, "that they must 
go — ^if they do not go they will be carried away — ^tell him that, 
Primus. " 

"Well, massa, I teld um. He say he like dis country 
where fader live and mudder. Don' want no new country." 

"But tell him, Primus, that they must go to the new 

The Negro Interpreter m 

home west. Tell him that the Great Father at Washington 
will send much, much troops and cannon and drive them all 
out. Make him understand that. " 

The negro interprets. 

"Well, Primus, what does he say now?'* 

"Putty much same t'ing he say *fore, massa — ^Bress God, 
dis berry fine country. Fader, mudder, live here an chiPn — 
he no wanto go nowhere 't all. " 

General Jackson indulged in a forced laugh but seemed 
not to be much impressed by the illustration. 

On July 8th, Captain Hitchcock received orders assign- 
ing him to the recruiting service in New York City, where 
he relieved Major P. F. Smith. 

Diary: "I hardly know what it is proper to do.^ When 
I left General Gaines all was quiet on the Sabine. I was tem- 
porarily attached to his staff and had his orders to return to 
him from Washington, but I thought the order was for my 
accommodation, and, believing active service in that quarter 
at an end, I did not hesitate to avail myself of Major Smith's 
offer to relieve him at New York. Now I hear that General 
Gaines has actually crossed the Sabine and gone with his 
army to Nacogdoches in Texas. I am puzzled what to do. 
I regard the whole of the proceedings in the Southwest as being 
wicked as far as the United States are concerned. Our people 
have provoked the war with Mexico and are prosecuting it 
not for 'liberty' but for land, and I feel averse to being an 
instrument for these purposes. " 

While recruiting in New York, Captain Hitchcock suggested 
improvements by which that service could be rendered more 
effective and useful, and they were so obviously desirable 
that the War Department at once adopted them. 

On November 28, 1836, a court of inquiry convened at 
Frederick, Md. *'to inquire into the causes of the failure of 
the campaign under Generals Gaines and Scott against the 
Seminoles. " General Gaines, tarrying in the South, requested 
that the court might be held there, and, when his request 
was unheeded, appointed Captain Hitchcock to represent him 
at Frederick. The Captain asked leave of the court to retire 

» General Gaines wrote, July 25, 1836, from "Camp Sabine": "I am 
anxiously looking for your return as my Inspector-General. " 

112 Fifty Years in Camp and Field 

during the examination of General Scott, delicacy forbid- 
ding him to listen to disclosures which might be important 
to General Gaines. General Scott amiably protested against 
his withdrawal for such a reason, expressing the highest con- 
fidence in his intelligence, discretion, and honor. But Cap- 
tain Hitchcock persisted, and returned temporarily to New 
York City. 

Early in December the African Colonization Society, 
Henry Clay President, renewed its proposal of three years 
before and unanimously elected Captain Hitchcock to be 
Governor of Liberia. These efforts to secure his co-operation 
were accompanied by a definite declaration that its "principal 
object was to Christianize Africa. ** Captain Hitchcock notes 
in his diary, "I determined not to place myself under the direc- 
tion of such managers and declined the appointment without 
comment. " 

On Jan. 12, 13, and 14, 1837, Captain Hitchcock gave 
evidence before the court at Frederick **in extenso " concerning 
the Scott-Gaines campaigns in Florida. "I took a principal 
part in General Gaines's defence: prepared nearly all the 
questions for witnesses; procured information; examined the 
documents laid before the court by General Scott, and wrote 
out a series of remarks upon them which General Gaines 
adopted almost verbatim in his defence, etc., etc. '* 

It seemed to be fated that General Scott should think Cap- 
tain Hitchcock hostile to him. ' When he was called before the 
court, General Scott asked him two questions, and, when they 
were answered, bluntly informed the witness that nothing 
more was desired of him. Of the sequel the witness subse- 
quently wrote: 

"Was I to acquiesce in being discharged from the stand 
while so much of my knowledge of the matter under investiga- 
tion remained undisclosed ? I could not assent to it in justice 
to myself as a witness under oath. Neither would I assent 
to it as having been a staff officer of General Gaines in his cam- 
paign, knowing, as I did, that my testimony was important 
to him. How could I abandon the interests of General Gaines 
under those circumstances without being recreant to every 
principle of honor and chivalry? Justice made it my impera- 
tive duty to speak and tell the whole truth. I did so. but 

Offends Scott 113 

without making the slightest remark calling for the censure 
of General Scott. He, however, seemed very hastily to adopt 
the impression that I was seekmg to injure him; and he ad- 
dressed the court, referring to me in language and manner 
that placed a barrier between us. . . . During the whole 
of my intercourse with General Gaines I labored incessantly 
to suppress the causes of irritation between him and General 
Scott. It was I alone who induced him to erase whole pages 
of personal reflections from his defence at Frederick. '* 

''Fred'k, Md., Jan. 17, '37. According to the treaty made 
with Houston, General Santa Anna, President of Mexico, 
arrived here this morning on his way to Washington. The 
officers of the court of inquiry, with others in attendance, 
upon its adjournment, called at Robust's Hotel and paid their 
respects to the distinguished stranger. He is a Spaniard in 
appearance, on the whole, but is of a slighter figure than I 
had expected to find. Is about 5 feet 10 inches, of a very com- 
manding and dignified presence, of graceful manners and a 
rather benign countenance. Smiled at his misfortunes, and 
for my life I cotild not believe he ever gave the order for the 
massacre of the Goliad— (he has always denied giving the 
order). It was sad to see him, fallen from the highest estate 
on this continent next to that of our own Presidency, and now 
travelling alone, and unattended except by two Texan officers. 
His aid, Almonte, has gone on in advance to Washington. 
Santa Anna's manners and whole appearance indicate a man 
accustomed to command and accustomed to give his opinions 
with authority. He speaks only Spanish, and but very little is 
said, as the interpreter himself is but poorly acquianted with 
that language. '* 



ON Feb. 1 5 , 1 83 7 , the Secretary of War voluntarily detailed 
Captain Hitchcock to the important service of dis- 
bursing officer in the Indian Bureau— making him 
virtually superintendent of all Indian affairs in the West. 
He left on March 14th for St. Louis with a large amount of 
money, expecting to disburse $300,000 and perhaps much 

"My orders for Indian duty were issued the 2d of March 
and were received at New York the 6th. I left New York 
the nth; arrived at Washington the 13th and was offered by 
General Macomb the clothing bureau, just vacated by Major 
Garland (double rations and large commutation for quarters, 
and fuel allowed). I declined, pleading a disposition not to 
seem vacillating, having but just received orders for duty in 
the Indian Department. The General also asked me how 
I would like to go back to West Point. Expressed regret at 
my having left there. Spoke freely of wrongs done me by 
General Jackson, etc. " 

Life in St. Louis proved monotonous. Daniel Webster 
visited the city on the steamboat Robert Morris, arriving on 
June 9th and having an enthusiastic public reception and bar- 
becue. Captain Hitchcock remained in St. Louis two years, 
performing the duties of General William Clark, Superintendent 
of Indian Affairs there, who was permanently disabled. Cap- 
tain Hitchcock soon found enough business to occupy all of 
his time in an effort to prevent the consummation of a great 


Frauds on the Winnebagoes 115 

fraud on the Chippewas, Sioux, and Winnebago Indians of 

By a treaty with the Winnebagoes, made in 1837, in which 
they ceded all of their lands on the east side of the Mississippi, 
it was stipulated that $200,000 should be applied to paying 
the dishonored debts of traders to the Winnebagoes, and that 
$100,000 should be paid to those having one quarter or more 
of Winnebago blood. Similar treaties existed with the other 
two nations. The President appointed a commission to 
effect the just distribution of this money, under definite in- 
structions from Washington. The money was sent to Cap- 
tain Hitchcock to be paid out by him on draft or requisition 
of the commissioners. 

The first demands for the money came in the shape of 
drafts made payable, in behalf of certain Indians, to "attor- 
neys in fact " or to "trustees" who had given no security. On 
investigation Captain Hitchcock found that most of the "attor- 
neys in fact" were acting for those who were perfectly compe- 
tent to collect the money in person, and he inferred that the 
bankrupt "trustees, " who had given no bonds, would probably 
use the money themselves. Inquirmg further and indus- 
triously taking testimony for months among the Indians, he 
found that the trustees and attorneys had in fact bought up 
the claims at a fraction of their real value, by deceiving the 
claimants, telling them that very little was due them, that 
the attorneys represented the government, that the U. S. 
Treasury was nearly out of money and nothing would be 
paid unless present offers were accepted, etc. Both forgery 
and perjury were resorted to, and bribery was not disdained. 
It was further learned that a Philadelphia lawyer had suc- 
ceeded in getting assignments of about four fifths of the entire 
amount to himself. Captain Hitchcock thereupon declined 
to pay a dollar of the money on any assignment or to any 
trustee, attorney in fact, or even commissioner, or to anybody 
except the half-breed claimants in person, and appealed to 

The commissioners had made it a rule to give a draft for 
about one half the amount to which the clamiant was entitled. 
In the case of sixteen persons whose claims were thus secured, 
the sum of $20,600 was paid in drafts on Captain Hitchcock, 

ii6 Fifty Years in Camp and Field 

where $52,300 was due and was afterwards actually paid — 
the drafts being repudiated. 

In his report to the Secretary of War, Captain Hitchcock 

*'I have crossed the purposes of a band of greedy specula- 
tors and brought upon myself the maledictions of many who 
will pretend an infinite degree of sympathy for the very half- 
breeds whom they have cheated and almost robbed by what 
will be boldly put forth as a legal proceeding. Be the conse- 
quences what they may, I rejoice that I have, for a few weeks 
at least, suspended the execution of this business. One claim 
of $1800 was sold under duress for $400. Can such a transac- 
tion pass in review without condemnation because it may 
wear the color of law? It is monstrous; and, if lawful, the 
law is a scourge to the innocent. '* 

So the payments were made to the Indians themselves, 
and the commissioners, who had been appointed "to protect 
these wards of the nation," lost the money they had basely 
paid or else obtained a refund from such Indians as were 
willing to pay it back. 

Thereupon there was a howl of indignation from all the 
plunderers who were disappointed and defeated in the frauds, 
but Captain Hitchcock's defiant attitude was heartily approved 
by the Secretary of War and the President. 

The men who were defeated in this robbery, thenceforth 
to be known as the "Winnebago frauds," had expected to 
divide among themselves a fortune of half a million dollars. 

Captain Hitchcock had managed the extensive department 
so successfully and exhibited so much courage, skill, and tact 
in dealing with its problems, that he was forthwith promoted 
to be major of the 8th Infantry — or, rather, advanced, for he 
was appointed over the heads of several captains who were 
his seniors, and his appointment was dated back to July 7, 
1838. Senator Thomas H. Benton was the first to notify 
him of his appointment in the new regiment, and Major Hitch- 
cock's acknowledgment of the kindly intercession is so char- 
acteristic that it cannot be wholly omitted here: 

** . . . Do me the justice to believe that the appoint- 
ment itself scarcely gave me more satisfaction than your letter, 
evincing, imsolicited, your interest in my welfare. I can 

To Washington with Fremont xt7 

now remark that I might possibly have written to you in re- 
lation to my own affairs during the last session of Congress, 
but I could not bear that any one should suppose me capable 
of attempting to convert the private acquaintance I had the 
pleasure to form with you last year to my personal advantage. 
As that acquaintance resulted in unmixed delight in your 
family, my hope of advancement could not induce me to 
subject my feelings to the remotest suspicion of selfishness. 
If there seems an3rthing odd in this, I pray you to impute it 
to the simplicity of my life and the singleness of purpose with 
which I desire you to tender my best respects to Mrs. Benton 
and my best regards to the younger members of your family, 
while I subscribe myself, Yours most trtdy. '' 

Being shortly ordered to Washington to close out his ac- 
counts, he left St. Louis on Jan. 8, 1839, and arrived at the 
national capital on the 23d in company with Lieutenant John 
C. Fremont. They travelled in *' mud- wagons" to the middle 
of Ohio. 

"One of the most abominable roads I have ever attempted 
to travel. We were in mud all the way, and had very fre- 
quently to walk, both night and day. . . . 

"Some persons here seem to give great importance to 
my opinions touching the proceedings under the Winnebago 
treaty. I stopped the payment of $100,000 some weeks ago, 
and to-day General Macomb, the Secretary of War, told me that 
my step in the business put the War Department on its guard 
here and induced a suspension of $200,000 more, and he has 
since become satisfied that there was abundant necessity for 
it. Fremont also brought a letter from the celebrated explorer 
and savant Nicollet, in the highest degree complimentary 
to me. ... I am plainly told at the War Department 
that my course at St. Louis has saved $300,000 from pillage. 
Alluding to the proceedings of the commissioners whose pur- 
poses I checked and in fact broke up, the Secretary told me 
that he could not express his gratitude to me for the service 
I had rendered; that I had saved the Department from the 
odium of one of the most shame ful transaction she ever knew. " 

All the testimony and letters in this famous case were 
printed by the government in a public document of 1 1 2 pages 
(Doc. No. 229, H. R. War Dept., 25th Congress, 3d Session) 

ii8 Fifty Years in Camp and Field 

which ends with the following paragraph in a letter to Hon. 
Hartley Crawford, Commissioner of Indian Affairs: 

"As for General 's insinuation that I desired to retain 

and use the public money, as a reason for my not paying the 
drafts, I blush for him, while I appeal to the case of the Sioux 
half-breed money and deny it. He should have been ashamed 
of the meanness that could induce him to utter such an in- 
sinuation; but I spare him in pity for his weakness, while I 
despise his malice. 

**E. A. Hitchcock, 
'* Major, Disbursing Agent.** 

The St. Louis Republican said, **Such a series of frauds and 
malpractices as this document discloses we have not witnessed 
before," and it praises **the integrity and humanity" of 
Major Hitchcock and declares that his vigilance "in arresting 
the fraud before its consummation deserves the praise of every 
philanthropist. " 

After his accounts for the disbursement of a million and a 
half of dollars had been adjusted and allowed, ^ Major Hitch- 
cock was ordered to return to St. Louis and Prairie du Chien 
to still stand guard over the public moneys. 

Major Hitchcock was ordered on court-martial duty at 
Fort Winnebago and returned to the West by way of Niagara 
Falls and the Great Lakes. 

"Chicago, Ills., Aug. 22, 1839. Arrived about noon to-day 
at this, the great example of the wild speculations of '36 and 
'37. Property here has fallen nine tenths in value — if 'value* 
be a proper term. A lot for which $4000 had been refused 
has just sold for $400. Most of the tenements have been 
erected hastily of wood for temporary use. " 

The death by yellow fever of his brother Henry in Alabama, 
Aug. II, 1839, affected his mind powerfully. Judge Hitchcock 
had greatly thriven in Alabama. He went there in 181 6, five 
years after his graduation from the University of Vermont 
and three years after the death of his father, having just been 
admitted to the bar. He borrowed $300 from a neighbor, 
went down the Ohio in a row-boat, and made his way across 

» The Treasury Department said, "Without a flaw of any kind in your 

Death of Judge Henry Hitchcock 119 

the almost pathless forest from Natchez to Mobile. He applied 
himself so earnestly to the law that he at once took a high and 
commanding position. In 18 18 he was made Secretary and 
Treasurer of the Territory of Alabama, and shortly afterwards, 
Attorney-General. He lived most of the time at Cahaba, the 
capital, now an unimportant post-town. His professional en- 
gagements took him into adjoining States, and he was a guest 
of General Jackson at the Hermitage, in Tennessee. In 1825 
Lafayette visited him, desiring to pay his respects to Judge 
Hitchcock's mother, whose father, Ethan Allen, he had person- 
ally known. In 1835 he was appointed Chief Justice of the 
Supreme Court of the State. His death in mid-life was univers- 
ally mourned. ^ A widow and four children survived him. His 
eldest son, Henry, became an eminent lawyer in St. Louis and 
President of the Bar Association of the United States ; the 
younger, Ethan Allen, was successively a China merchant, a 
manufacturer. Ambassador to Russia, and Secretary of the 
Interior in the Cabinets of Presidents McKinley and Roosevelt. 
Obtaining leave of absence for six months, beginning in 
October, 1839, Major Hitchcock went South to settle his 
brother's estate, the property, amounting to some two million 
dollars, having become much confused and involved. The voy- 
ager tells in his diary of the cost of getting to Mobile, scarcely 
half the way by steam : * * from Washington to Potomac Creek, 
$4; to Richmond, $3.50; to Weldon, $8; to Charleston, $15; 
to Augusta, $10; to Greensboro, $4.25; to Columbus, $20; 
to Montgomery, $12; to Mobile, $25; — ^total, $101.75." 

1 An obituary in the Mobile Chronicle says: "The sudden demise of this 
distinguished citizen has sent a thrill through every heart of this community. 
His long residence here, his extensive possessions, his enlarged views, his 
public spirit, his admirable energy of character, had identified Judge Hitch, 
cock with the best interests of Mobile; and his affability of manner and his 
readiness to aid by his counsel, his influence, his personal exertion, his credit 
and his purse, had endeared him to hundreds. At all times he was remark- 
able for strict integrity, a nice sense of honor, and all those amiable qualities 
which confer grace and dignity on a man in his personal intercourse. " 

The Mobile bar met and passed resolutions of deep regret, and Chief 
Justice Collier, said to the court: "Each one of us knew the quickness of his 
perceptions, the frankness of his demeanor, and the power of his argumenta- 
tion. His social virtues are attested by his boundless benevolence and 
charity, evidences of which will long survive him. He was a rare model 
of kindness and affection. His example should teach the young aspirant 
for the honors of the profession that the only certain road to eminence is 
an elevated morality and a ceaseless industry." 



DURING the early months of 1840, Major Hitchcock was 
at Washington. On April 25th he dined with Repre- 
sentative John Bell, Chairman of the Indian Affairs 
Committee of the House of Representatives. During a call 
at the White House, he was quite surprised because President 
Van Bxiren talked politics incessantly and was cheerful and 
jovial though the election seemed going against him. "If 
Harrison is elected," predicts the bold diarist, "the Whig 
party will be split up in a very short time." He seems to 
have been endowed with prescience. 

In May he spent some days at Madison Barracks, New 
York, during the Canada border disturbances, and then pro- 
ceeded to his (the 8th) regiment. Colonel Worth, at Fort 
Winnebago, "Camp McKown, " in central Wisconsin. 

"June 22. We are ordered to St. Louis (Jefferson Bar- 
racks) and then, after the sickly season, to Florida. I saw the 
beginning of the Florida campaigns in 1836, and may see the 
end of them unless they see the end of me. The government 
is in the wrong, and this is the chief cause of the persevering 
opposition of the Indians, who have nobly defended their 
country against our attempt to enforce a fraudulent treaty. 
The natives used every means to avoid a war, but were forced 
into it by the t3n:anny of our government. " 

On August 2 ist an order came for the regiment to return to 
Wisconsin to remove the Winnebagoes. This order was coun- 
termanded the next morning while hasty preparations were 


Varied Service and Return to Florida 121 

being made. "So it is; a breath moves us and a breath stays 
us, and that breath may come from an intoxicated general 

to one almost bed-ridden. General did not draw a sober 

breath at Fort Crawford after our arrival. " 

But in September the start was at last made for Tampa 
Bay, Florida. In the middle days of October the diarist 
finds himself becalmed in the Gulf of Mexico with fotir com- 
panies of his regiment. Worrying does not seem to raise the 
wind, so he spends his time reading Hobbes, Hegel, Locke, 
Cousin, and Kant, and philosophizing thereon: 

''It is plain that Goethe was a pantheist, and I see that 
a pantheist may be a Christian, a Mohammedan, and a hea- 
then at the same time. Pantheism ought to be regarded as the 
very reverse of atheism, being the admission of everything 
and the denial of nothing. He has the most acctirate know- 
ledge of God who has the most comprehensive knowledge 
of Nature ... for these two are one. '* 

**But little wind — and that ahead. On board, 350 men. 
Somewhat seasick. Food bad. Much of supplies unfit for 
use. On half rations. The men catch rain in their caps to 
drink. We are drifting towards Yucatan. No medical officer 
aboard. Have but little trouble keeping order. " 

The Major thus lightly notes the annoyances and distresses 
of the voyage, and plunges anew into Kant, Hegel, and Goethe. 
His serenity is undisturbed, and he records, '*To fear a hell 
hereafter and yet enjoy tranquillity on earth is a contradiction 
and an impossibility." On the twentieth day out he enters 
Tampa Bay, at the end of fifty pages of closely written com- 
ment on Kant's Critique of Pure Reason. 

On October 27th he starts northward for Fort King in 
command of a party of troops, and five days later passes near 
the site of the Dade massacre of five years before. Appear- 
ances abundantly indicate that the Seminole War is not yet 
"ended for the last time. " 

"Fort King, Nov. 4, 1840. Arrived yesterday sun an hour 
high. Our entire regiment is now here. General Armistead 
is expected to-day or to-morrow and the Indian chiefs are to 
meet him here by appointment. 

"General Armistead having assured me that I shall take 
charge of the Seminole delegation if one is sent to Washington, 

122 Fifty Years in Camp and Field 

I have spoken to some of the officers to find out what policy 
they prefer. 

"The treaty of Payne's Landing was a fraud on the Indians : 
They never approved of it or signed it. They are right in 
defending their homes and we ought to let them alone. The 
country southward is poor for our purposes, but magnificent 
for the Indians — a, fishing and hunting country without agri- 
cultural inducements. The climate is against us and is a 
paradise for them. The army has done all that it could. 
It has marched all over the upper part of Florida. It has 
burned all the towns and destroyed all the planted fields. 
Yet, though the Indians are broken up and scattered, they 
exist in large numbers, separated, but worse than ever. . . . 
The chief, Coocoochee, is in the vicinity. It is said that he 
hates the whites so bitterly that 'he never hears them men 
tioned without gnashing his teeth. ' " ^ 

Hereupon Major Hitchcock proposed that the southern 
part of the peninsula should be given up for the permanent 
home of such Indians as chose to remain, and he canvassed 
the officers concerning that project. Almost every man ap- 
proved it, though several expressed a fear that it "would 
injure the army" by showing its inefficiency. 

At Fort King General Armistead met Halec Tustenugga 
and Tiger Tail in conference. Little progress towards peace 
was made. The General here received a letter from the Secre- 
tary of War authorizing the use of money to bribe the chiefs 
to convey their tribes to Arkansas, or, failing in that, authoriz- 
ing them to reside "for an indefinite period" in Florida below 
Tampa Bay. At a council of war Major Hitchcock advo- 
cated vigorous action on the lines of this authority. He 

> This distinguished chief gave his views of the white man's policy as 
follows: "I was once a boy. Then I saw the white man afar off. I hunted 
in these woods, first with bow and arrow, then with rifle. I saw the white 
man and was told he was my enemy. I could not shoot him as I would a 
wolf or bear. Yet like these he came upon me. Horses, cattle, and fields 
he took from me. He said he was my friend. He abused our women and 
children and told us to go from the land. Still he gave us his hand in friend- 
ship. We took it. Whilst taking it he had a snake in the other. His 
tongue was forked. He lied, and stung us. I asked but for a small piece 
of these lands — enough to plant and to live upon — far south, a spot where I 
could lay the ashes of my kindred, and even this has not been granted to 
me. I feel the irons in my heart." 

The Government in the Wrong 123 

concluded with an estimate of necessary expenditures, as 
follows : 

To the chiefs $5, 000 

To the warriors, themselves 5, 000 

For 1,000 blankets @ $3 3, 000 

For 200 rifles and ammtmition 3, 000 

For 2,000 shirts 2, 000 

For 2,000 yards of cloth 3, 000 


"This supposes and provides for 200 warriors or 1000 
persons, — one band. I carried the estimate to the General, 
telling him that if necessary he might safely double, treble, or 
quadruple the amount, and the nation would thank him. . . . 
Halec Tustenugga dined with our staff mess yesterday. He 
wore his headdress of long black ostrich feathers and was waited 
on like a prince by his followers. " 

Ignoring the advice of his staff, the General coolly pocketed 
the money proposition, and the proposition conceding terri- 
tory, and drew up another treaty like the first, and offered it to 
Halec to sign. The chief took instant alarm at this duplicity, 
and fled to the woods in the night of November 14th with his 
whole party. Major Hitchcock reports to his diary : 

" General Armistead is entirely subdued and broken-spirited. 
His confidence in his success has been boundless and his 
letters to Washington have doubtless been written in that 
temper. I cannot help thinking it is partly his own fault. 
If he had freely offered the Indians an ample reward to emi- 
grate, or the undisturbed possession of the country south of 
Tampa Bay, he might have secured peace. I have suggested 
his making the overture now, but he declines. Not only did he 
refuse to make the offer he was authorized to make, but at the 
very time when Halec was here in amicable talk he secretly 
sent a force into his rear, threatening his people at home ! . . . . 
I confess to a very considerable disgust in this service. I 
remember the cause of the war, and that annoys me. I think 
of the folly and stupidity with which it has been conducted, 
particularly of the puerile character of the present command- 
ing general, and I am quite out of patience. " 

124 Fifty Years in Camp and Field 

Primus, the negro interpreter, being sent for by the General 
at this point, freed his mind, respectfully, but very plainly, as 
to the policy of sending hostile forces into the swamps to kill 
the Indians while pretending to desire peace and trying to 
persuade them to emigrate. He expatiated on the contra- 
diction between the white man*s talks and acts, and insisted 
that the Indians would be perfectly satisfied with the coimtry 
below Tampa. Dull as the commanding general seems to 
have been, his mind was somewhat impressed by the wisdom 
of the ex-slave and he issued orders withdrawing Major Dear- 
bom from his march southward. Major Hitchcock breaks out 
in his diary : 

**This is my thimder! Before the regiment left here in Oc- 
tober I advised the General not to send Dearborn down that 
way. I suggested the plan of pacification, but I don't care 
who ends the cursed war, so it be ended. . . . The General 
holds the olive branch in one hand and the sword in the other 
and attempts to use both at the same time. '* 

As a result of this vacillating conduct the Indians broke 
out and attacked a wagon train near Miccanopy, killing several 
men and women. In a skirmish in southern Florida Major 
Harney captured six Indians and immediately hanged five 
of them to a tree, and shortly afterwards was promoted to be 
Colonel for ''gallant and meritorious conduct." 

During this winter there was comparative quiet but little 
real progress. Major Hitchcock was sent to Key West, Fort 
Dallas (Miami) , and Fort Pierce on Indian River, and he col- 
lected 57 Indians who had surrendered and promised to go to 
Arkansas. During the next February (1841) he established 
at Fort Cummings, about fifty miles east of Tampa, a camp of a 
portion of the 8th Regiment, the object being to invite Coo- 
coochee (** Wild Cat ") , the chief of the Kissimmee Indians, to a 
parley for the purpose of inducing him to go to Arkansas. 
Coocoochee came in, and Colonel Worth, who had now come to 
the tent, offered him $4000 for himself and $30 for each warrior 
if they would accede to the wishes of the government. The 
chief orally assented to the proposition, but asked delay, 
refused to give any guaranty, and left next day promising to 
return in ten days and carrying off with him his little daughter, 
who had been captured by the troops and kept as a hostage. 

Hitchcock Proposes Conciliation 125 

' ' Our policy now is to ask the Indians in, assuring them that 
we are their very good friends (the evidence of which it is dif- 
ficult to make them see) , and finally to buy them, with about 
ten times the money that would have purchased the whole 
tribe at the beginning of our intercourse with them, before we 
had outraged them by injury, fraud, and oppression. We can 
do more with silver than with lead, and yet save silver in the 

''You are puzzled to know, " he writes to Rev. W. G. Eliot, 
"whether a camp life deserves envy or compassion. Perhaps 
a little of both. Just at this moment I am in a tent under a 
bower, giving me a delightful shade in a current of soft, genial 
air, on the borders of a beautiful lake in the midst of open pine 
woods entirely free from undergrowth, the whole coimtry 
covered with a fresh luxuriant grass except where dotted with 
lakelets of as pure water as ever filled a gentleman's pitcher or 
a soldier's tin cup. We have himters who supply our whole 
command with more venison and wild turkeys than we can eat. 
This is the paradise of camp life, but we march in cold and 
rain, in mud and dust, in hot sand imder a burning sun, with 
irregular meals or none, without tents, and at times so near 
the enemy that we must dispense with fires when wet and cold 
at the end of a long march. This service is harder on me than 
on most others, for I know the cruel wrongs to which the en- 
emy has been subjected, so I cannot help wishing that the right 
may prevail, which is, to use your own language, Spraying 
for the Indians.' " 

True to his character and habits, Major Hitchcock had 
frequent recourse to his diary during this troublesome winter, 
recording every week and almost every day thoughtful com- 
ments on the great philosophical books of the world. He 
writes a word of explanation : 

**In Camp Cummings. 23d March, 1841. It may seem 
singular to me some time hence, if I refer to this diary, that, 
in the midst of Indian councils, in the centre of Florida, in 
a state of war, I should so frequently make theological notes 
which are commonly the fruit of leisure and ease. But the 
fact is that here, except when actually engaged in councils 
or conflicts with Indians, we are sitting still in camp, waiting 
events, and every day is as quiet as the Sabbath." 

126 Fifty Years in Camp and Field 

He accompanies this with an elaborate argument con- 
cerning God, nature, necessity, faith, and knowledge, tradi- 
tion and miracle, — a, negative creed rather than a positive 

Coocoochee followed the example of the other chiefs in 
being as good as his word. He came into camp on the 19th 
of March and held a very amiable council with the Major. 

"He spoke at length of his people and their scattered 
condition; of their alarm and fear of danger through the 
treachery of the whites. He said he had given up the war. 
He knew that it could not last forever. It must end some 
time, and the time had come. But it was necessary to have 
a few weeks in which to collect his people, for somebody who 
had been in must go out again and vouch for our peaceful 
intentions. Too much haste would spoil everything, for they 
would think it a trick and hide. . . . His representation 
seemed to me reasonable and I told him so.'* 

Presently Colonel Worth arrived and took charge of the 
conversation. He failed to understand Coocoochee, tried to 
browbeat him, and flew into a passion and charged the Indians 
with trying to deceive him. He exclaimed that he did not 
care if the war lasted fifteen years longer; whereat Coocoo- 
chee said, **The Colonel talks like an old woman. " 

** During the council the chief has so frequently referred 
to me as understanding him that after it broke up, and Coo- 
coochee had walked away, the Colonel forced a bantering 
air of good-nature and, turning to me, said, ' I believe I shall 
have to hand him over to you. Major, ' and he added, bitterly 
smiling, 'you have completely won his heart. Major!' Coo- 
coochee shortly afterwards returned, came up to us, and, 
laying his hand on my shoulder, said I was his brother." 

A curious coincidence of opinion ! 

"Camp, March 21. The Colonel with Coocoochee left 
here for Tampa or the camp of Coosa Tustenugga, not certain 
which. News from Tampa is that 280 Indians, men, women, 
and children, are on board of the transport — embarked for 
Arkansas. Eighty-three more are at Sarasota, a few miles 
south of Tampa. 

"Camp, March 30. The Seminole chief, Coocoochee, 
arrived from Tampa last evening. He came at once to see 

Coocoochee in Council 127 

me and sat till ten o'clock talking. He is on his way to gather 
up his people and wants provisions for a few days and some 
presents of calico. Said he had been promised leggings and 
a Stroud^ by Colonel Worth, but had not received them; also 
$2 which the Colonel owed him for two heron's feathers. 
I gave him $2 at a venture, also calico for his wife and 
daughter and a shirt for himself and each of the men with 
him, and a red blanket. He then left. 

** After dinner he sat and talked with me some time. He 
said he had determined to give up, but he had not been de- 
feated. He could hold out longer, and if his people were 
half as many as the whites they would sweep the palefaces 
from the face of the earth. He then apologized for the seeming 
braggadocio. If all the red men were like Coocoochee they 
could do a deal of mischief. " 

The reader will feel that there is something extremely 
pathetic in the proposition which the despairing chief now 
made in behalf of his people, as recorded thus in the diary: 

'*In the course of our talk Coocoochee asked me why 
the white people would not be satisfied with coming into 
Florida and occupying 'all the good places' and letting the 
Indians have * all the bad places. * There was reason in this, 
for truly, if the Seminoles would agree to it, they are now so 
few that the whites could compel them to obey their laws. 
But I explained to him that where Indians and whites were 
neighbors the Indian men became drunken vagabonds, and 
the women worse. " 

Coocoochee had been a little shy during the interviews 
with General Worth; perhaps not unreasonably, for a year 
or two before he and a number of his people had accepted 
an invitation from General Jesup on the St. John's to visit him, 
with every assurance of personal safety, but as soon as they 
were in his power that General seized them, made them all 
prisoners, confining them in a common jail at St. Augustine. 
Osceola died while in prison, but Coocoochee escaped and was 
"a fugitive from justice" when he received his second invita- 
tion. On this occasion he suffered no restraint, but he was 
not so forttmate a year later, when under assurances of safety 
and freedom, he and his warriors came into Tampa for a con- 

» A rag blanket worn by the Indians. 

128 Fifty Years in Camp and Field 

ference. When a hundred or more of them were comfortably 
assembled in the large quartermaster's warehouse, armed 
soldiers surrotmded the building, they were taken prisoners, 
and hurried off to Arkansas. It was now announced that the 
Florida War had been brought to an honorable close and Col- 
onel Worth was rewarded by being made a Brigadier-General. 
Long before this time Major Hitchcock had become certain 
that a sanguinary war against the Florida Indians was at 
once imjust and unwise. It had now gone on for more than 
five years; two thirds of the Indians had been taken to Arkan- 
sas, but the rest were more hostile, more defiant, and more 
secretive than ever. Some of them had been treacherously 
slain and many of them captured imder a flag of truce; some 
had been subjected to mutilation and torture; prisoners had 
been deliberately hanged; and the survivors had become so 
terrorized that they now refused to hold any parley with 
the whites. 

At this juncture Major Hitchcock had a long and earnest 
correspondence with Congressman John Bell, chairman of 
the Indian Committee of the House of Representatives, and 
this correspondence was continued when, shortly after, Mr. 
Bell became President Tyler's Secretary of War. One of the 
Major's letters on this subject is fourteen pages long, and the 
next one eighteen pages, but they proved so interesting that 
they were read, not only by Mr. Bell, but by the President, 
who endorsed upon them: **I have read with deep interest 
Major Hitchcock's letters, which are now returned. They 
are highly instructive and evince entire sincerity. If peace, 
as suggested by Major Hitchcock, could be negotiated, leaving 
them a portion of the country, the tide of white population 
would roll in and do more service than an army.** 

In these letters the writer proposed a cessation of hos- 
tilities and an amicable truce and friendly offices instead of 
fighting. He proposed, also, that the southern part of the 
peninsula should be given to the Indians, where they could 
live imdisturbed, — a, policy finally adopted, as to the southern 
Indians. He moreover narrated the causes of the war, and 
showed that it resulted from forgery by officials and bribery 
and treachery on the part of the United States Government. 
He said : 

The ** Red Man's Brother " 129 

"Our troops, in moving about the country, have scattered 
the Indians in every direction ; to avoid us, they hide in small 
parties, taking every precaution to prevent discovery — • 
not building fires, even, for fear of disclosing their hiding- 
places by the smoke. It is almost impossible for them to 
find each other; while searching for their friends they may 
be within a few yards and not know of each other's vicinity. 
. . . To carry on such a war seems an idle, if not a wicked 
waste of life and treasure. Lately a party of dragoons, mov- 
ing a hundred and fifty miles and sending out detachments to 
right and left, sweeping a breadth of country all the way, 
brought, in as captives, one man, his wife, and five children! 

"Not a single war party, after striking a blow, has been 
captured by us, so far as I know, out of the multitude of 
instances of pursuit since this war began. Flight with them 
has become a science. . . . 

"The conclusion, then, is this: that the government 
will actually gain time and save money, lives, and reputation, 
by conceding something to the Indians under their present 
prejudices and alarm — ^acknowledging their possession (by 
a truce, not a treaty) of as much of the country as will satisfy 
them ; then seeking amicable intercourse with them, dissipating 
their prejudices, allaying their fears, soothing them, and 
finally persuading them to go and join their friends in Arkan- 
sas by the promise of that justice which was denied them 
in the insolence of supposed power in the beginning of the 

"There is now a tendency on the part of the Indians to 
abstain from acts of war. Let this be fostered by pacific 
communications. Some will come in and be induced to 
emigrate. Others will gradually lay aside the rifle, and the 
war will die a natural death. It may require time to accom- 
plish this amicably; but it is certain that force cannot effect 
it in a much longer time if at all. '* 



EARLY in April, 184 1, Major Hitchcock returned to 
Tampa with his command. He had held a long and 
candid correspondence with the Secretary of War, and 
on arriving at the coast was surprised and pleased to receive 
an order from General Macomb, Commander-in-Chief of the 
Army, to report to Washington immediately. 

"Here, then, General Armistead and Colonel Worth are 
both disappointed in the miscarriage of the plan to force 
me to resign by refusing the leave to go to Washington which 
I asked for a month ago. Worth is as arrogant and domi- 
neering as pride can make a man. On the whole, my leave-tak- 
ing is decidedly gratifying. I go from Florida with the war im- 
finished : but it may be imfinished five or ten years from now, 
if the management be not improved. I shall be able to give 
some useful hints to the authorities in Washington." 

''Washington, May i. Reported to General Macomb 
and asked if he had special orders for me. He said he had 
not, but added, 'The Secretary of War wants to see you: I 
don't know what about.' Called at once on Secretary Bell 
and spent a long evening with him. I had been much talked 
of, he said, for Inspector-General of the Army, but there was 
opposition. General Scott had called and 'respectfully but 
earnestly remonstrated' against my berag assigned to duty 
in the War Department. He had referred to my conduct at 
the Frederick court-martial and said I was ' constitutionally ' 
his enemy. I explained to Secretary Bell that this hostility 


Suggested for Inspector-General 131 

of General Scott arose from a misunderstanding on his part, 
and that he really owed me thanks for what I did at Frederick. 
The Indian Bureau is open to me, and the Secretary urged me 
to take it ; but it will necessarily be a political office and I will 
not become a partisan, and have declined it. Am assured 
that my association with Mr. Bell is expected and ardently 
desired by the whole army, it being thought that I can assist 
him in protecting the interests of the service. But I told Mr. 
Bell that I should not only refuse to be Commissioner of In- 
dian Affairs, but should decline any office that brought me 
near him if it would make his intercourse with General Scott 
difficult or unpleasant. The Secretary kindly said that he 
wished me to be near him, and he felt disposed to take a 
high hand with General S. and peremptorily overrule him. 
I strongly advised against it. 

"We had a long talk about the Florida affairs, in which 
I urgently recommended the adoption of a pacific policy in 
closing the difficulties. Mr. B: was inclined to order a sum- 
mer campaign. I argued strongly against it and wrote him a 
letter on the subject. He said he should lay it before the 
President. ^ 

"The Secretary then told me that he had ordered General 
Scott to come to Washington; whereupon I, to simplify mat- 
ters, left for New York. ' ' 

" Returned to Washington May 13. General Scott declares 
that he has dismissed all prejudice against me and would 
himself be perfectly satisfied to have me near the Secretary, 
but thinks my acceptance of the position of Adjutant-General 
'would do me irreparable injury.' I see in this his personal 
opposition, notwithstanding his disclaimer and his allegation 
to the Secretary that I possess 'talents of the very first 
order. ' 

* ' Washington, May 1 5 . Secretary Bell to-day frankly asked 
my advice as to what he had better do to settle our affairs 
in Florida. I told him I would relieve General Armistead 
and assign the command to Colonel Worth. I would give the 

1 In this memorandum to the Secretary of War, found among Hitch- 
cock's papers, he says: "In my letter to General A. I would intimate as an 
object of the order, the desire to relieve him from an arduous duty which 
he has for a long period prosecuted with great zeal and industry (omit 

132 Fifty Years in Camp and Field 

Colonel free scope and let him expect suitable acknowledg- 
ment in a brevet if successful. 

"May 1 6th. Remarkable interview with Secretary of 
War. Spent the whole evening with him, by invitation, and 
again urged upon him the measures I deem expedient in 
Florida. He finally authorized me to draft two letters for 
him to sign, one relieving General Armistead and the other 
appointing Colonel Worth, just as I advised yesterday. I 
have done so, and have seen Mr. Bell again. He has consulted 
General Macomb and General Scott and both warmly approve 
• — the latter said, 'Hitchcock's an able man, sir; an able man, 
sir!' Mr. Bell told Scott that if Worth put an end to the 
difficulties he would recommend him for a brevet, and Scott 
said: *He '11 break his neck, sir! He '11 break his neck, sir!' " 

Major Hitchcock was persistently urged for the Indian 
Bureau, but firmly declined. A special session of Congress 
met on May 31, and at the request of President Tyler Major 
Hitchcock prepared some paragraphs as to the condition of 
the army and the prosecution of the Seminole War. Mr. 
Bell assigned to him a room in the War Department and 
frequently called on him for advice and assistance concerning 
affairs at the front. General Wool and others, however, 
annoyed Major Hitchcock by assuming that he was absent 
from his regiment without leave, and the Secretary resented 
it when it accidentally came to his knowledge. "Mr. Bell 
sent for me to his office, where he assured me of his readiness 
to issue an order putting me on duty with him. I was, he 
went on to say, engaged in important public duties — 'more 
important, as far as I can see, than those of any other officer' 
— and he declared that he could not dispense with my services 
and would not without a strong remonstrance, even if the 
President were to order it. He has given me every possible 
assurance to make my mind easy. " 

"Had a letter from Colonel Worth (Pilatka). Writes 
freely of all movements and plans; is evidently reconciled 
and pleased, indeed, that I can stand by him here." 

"Wash'n., June 12. General Armistead arrived yester- 
day from Florida, and to-day had an interview with Secretary 
Bell. After leaving the Secretary he came to my room. 
While sitting with me I opened the door, hearing the voice 

Hostility of General Scott 133 

of Colonel Harney, and seeing both Harney and Colonel 
Twiggs I invited them in, saying, 'General Armistead is here. ' 
At this the General arose and approached the door, meeting 
Colonel Harney, Twiggs, however, started off and had 
walked several paces when the General called to him. He 
turned and they approached each other. The General offered 
his hand, but the Colonel put his hands behind him. I heard 
nothing that the General said, but presume he asked, 'What is 
the reason for this?' as I distinctly heard Colonel Twiggs say 
* I have no reason to assign to General Armistead. ' The negro 
messenger was present and, to break a scene in the hall of 
the War Office, I immediately said, 'Walk in, gentlemen,' 
and urged the whole into my room, shutting the door. After 
a few moments the General left us. While he remained, 
he talked with Harney and I with Twiggs." 

"June 15, *4i. Yesterday I dined with the Secretary of 
War. Dinner given to please General Armistead. The Attor- 
ney-General, Mr. Crittenden, the 'great conservator,' Generals 
Tallmage, Macomb, Jesup, Wool, Jones, and others present. 
Dinner in French style, like that at General Macomb's." 

About this time the diarist discusses free will at great 
length and gives elaborate reasons for his being a necessarian. 
He is impressed by the circumstance that amid the whirl and 
tumult of society his mind is "engaged in reveries upon 
strange questions and abstruse speculations concerning the 
mysteries of nature. " 

"June 25, 1 841. Major-General Macomb died to-day at 
half past 2 P.M. — paralysis — third stroke." 

"June 29 — ^The General was buried yesterday in the 
Congressional graveyard about mid-day. Procession nearly 
a mile long, marshalled by General Jesup. " 

"General Parker came in and urged the abolishment of 
the office of major-general. Secretary Bell fell in with the 
idea, and suggested that Scott, being before the public as a 
probable candidate for the Presidency, might himself prefer 
to avoid the responsibility of office here meantime. I inter- 
posed a contrary opinion. . . . Even while we were 
talking a letter arrived from Scott in which he earnestly 
and strenuously pleaded for the appointment of major-gen- 
eral. 'I told you so, ' I might have said. " 

134 Fifty Years in Camp and Field 

*'Jiily 23, 1841. If the President vetoes the bank bill 
the Cabinet will disperse. In conversation with Mr. Bell 
this morning allusion was made to the President's 'breaking 
up the party,* and dispersing the Cabinet. *If he does, 
I *11 break his head!' said Mr. Bell —meaning, of course, 

"My mind has undergone changes. I feel stronger than 
I did. What appeared great has diminished. Generals and 
great men are pygmies. Principles, laws of Nature, truth — 
these alone seem grand. " 

''Washington, Aug. 11, '41. The House, by a majority 
of 31, passed the bill for a United States bank sent from the 
Senate three or four days ago, and the public mind is intensely 
excited with regard to its probable fate at the hand of the 
President. Many have thought he would veto the bill. This 
morning there was a Cabinet council and while it was in 
session, about 12 m., Mrs. Bell sent for me from her carriage 
at the door of the War Office. ^ I left my papers and went 
to see her. She said she had positive information that Mr. 
Tyler had determined to veto the bill, and it was his purpose 
to drive the present Cabinet to resign — or the greater part; 
also that she had been furnished with a list of the members 
pitched upon for the new Cabinet — ^mentioning Cushing for 
the State Department, and Poindexter and Peyton. She 
was much excited and wanted Mr. Bell to have a hint on no ac- 
count to resign, but to force the President's hand, that he 
might have the odium of breaking up the Cabinet selected 
by Harrison — ^the people's choice. 

"I shortly saw Mr. Bell and told him what I had heard. 
He thought the President would veto the bill, and it was 
uncertain what the Cabinet would then do. 

"Aug. 13. It is believed that the President will veto the 
bill. The exultation of the (Locofocos) Democratic Jackson 
Van Buren men is boundless, and so is the indignation, rage, 
and disappointment of the Whigs. . . . During the can- 
vass last year the bank mania rose very high, and the elec- 
tion is generally supposed to have turned on that question. 
Harrison was brought in, 't is generally thought, to establish 
a bank of the United States. He called an extra session 

> Mrs. John Bell was a sister of Mrs. Judge Henry Hitchcock. 

Tyler's Veto Message 135 

immediately after his inauguration to act upon this matter. 
Meantime, he died, and now Tyler vetoes the bill. It was 
distinctly a Whig measure and was introduced by Clay, 
whom Tyler, in the nominating convention last summer* 
ardently urged for President!" 

''Aug. 16. The veto message is out — complete Locofoco. 
The first thing that strikes me is the treachery of Mr. Tyler's 
conduct towards his Cabinet — up to the last moment this 
morning not letting them know his decision. . . . The 
President has displeased the Locos also, by signing the bill 
repealing the sub-treasury law of last year. " ^ 

''Sept. 9. There is strong menace of war with England. 
It is even reported that she has sent her fleets to our coast. 
. . . This afternoon I wrote to Mr. Webster, the Secretary 
of State, that as a war with England would have to be closed 
by negotiations at last, it would perhaps be better to con- 
sider that the war was already over, and that we had done all 
the mischief to each other in our power, and so propose a 
commission and begin negotiations at once, for the adjustment 
of all the difficulties existing between the two nations." 

"Sept. 15, *4i. Major Churchill has been nominated In- 
spector-General, so I lose my promotion. If General Brady 
had been promoted to Scott's place instead of Wool, I should 
have been promoted. And this was in my power. General 
Scott was anxious for it and I overruled him with the Secre- 
tary — ^that is, if I had gone for Brady, the Secretary would 
have named him, and nothing could have prevented his ap- 
pointment. " 

» A few weeks later five members of the Cabinet resigned, all except 
Daniel Webster. 



MAJOR HITCHCOCK was now senior in his grade and 
expecting promotion to be Lieutenant-Colonel. In- 
stead of being ordered to rejoin his regiment in Florida, 
he was asked by the President if he would go to Arkansas 
to investigate alleged frauds against the Cherokees, and, 
being willing, it was so ordered. His appointment is dated 
Sept. 28, 1 841, and advises him that he has been "selected 
with the express sanction of the President." He was now 
recognized as an expert concerning Indian affairs and as a 
tireless and fearless investigator. After dining with Mr. Bell's 
family on Sept. 29th he left for the West in a stage, having 
for company Hon. John J. Crittenden, late Attorney-General. 

"Oct. 5. vSteamboat Saratoga on the 'beautiful Ohio,* 
now a small muddy stream. Our steamer touches bottom 
every few miles, drawing 30 in. 

"Oct. 9, 1 841, Lexington, Ky. Dined with Judge Mar- 
shall, a slender man with black eyes. The dinner was in 
honor of Henry Clay, the great senator, and was attended 
by about a dozen of the first men of the place. Dinner well 
served: tone and temper of conversation admirable. At 
my end of the table, Tyler was uppermost as a topic. Mr. 
Clay gave the opinion that he was influenced in his vetoes 
by two motives— the desire for notoriety and that for re- 


Investigates Frauds upon Cherokees, etc. 137 

venge (on Botts for his letter). I remarked that he had 
succeeded in his first object. A discussion arose upon the 
effects of an impeachment — ^whether the President, pending 
impeachment, could exercise the prerogatives of office. Mr. 
Clay thought he could. I remarked that, if he could not, 
a majority in a factious spirit could impeach the President 
and suspend him from the functions of office in order to carry 
a favorite party measure through an acting President. Judge 
Robinson took up the discussion at my hint, but the conclusion 
as to several points was that the Constitution had not pro- 
vided for them and cases had never come up. It was inquired 
what course would be pursued in case the President should 
be deranged. I inquired if removal would not be effected 
by the necessary action on his conduct which, under derange- 
ment, would subject him to impeachment. This seemed to 
strike General Combe. Mr. Clay, now over 60, is quite erect 
but looks feeble, and, though he talks familiarly, he speaks 
with measured slowness in the full, sonorous voice which has 
always distinguished him. '* 

"Nov. 10. Lay by last night. Steamer broke 'hog 
chain. ' Floodwood floats by. River rising. 

"Nov. 18. Little Rock. Arrived yesterday at 3 p.m. 
About to go up river. On board is the Choctaw agent and 
Superintendent in Southwest. Have been introduced to 
him. The captain says many people in Little Rock are 
exceedingly anxious to know my business in this country, 
suspecting that some of their rascalities may come to light. 
Under the contracts which I was sent to investigate several 
hundred thousand dollars were thrown away. One Indian 
agent came here so poor that a man with a $400 claim against 
him was glad to settle for $100. Now he owns a considerable 
number of negroes and has offered $17,000 for a plantation. 
This in four or five years, on a salary of $1500! This agent 
has called on me and has just given me some statistical 
information: Sixteen or eighteen thousand Creeks; as many 
Cherokees; as many Choctaws and Chickasaws combined, in 
proportion of two Choctaws to one Chickasaw. These two tribes 
speak the same language. Have united in a government, 
with a council of thirty — ^twenty Choctaws to ten Chicka- 
saws. Choctaws live east of Chickasaws. Both grow cotton 

138 Fifty Years in Camp and Field 

and hold negro slaves. Have laws against whisky-selling." 

During the succeeding months Major Hitchcock was busy 
going from fort to reservation, from camp to camp, through 
iVrkansas, investigating alleged frauds perpetrated by white 
officials against the Indians. Even before leaving Little 
Rock charges of corruption reached him that could not be 
ignored. On account of these reports the army paymaster 
attempted to browbeat him and force him into a causeless 
quarrel. On Nov. 23d he left Fort Smith and entered the 
Cherokee nation on horseback, pausing at Fort Gibson, 
"on the left bank of Grand River, two miles above its con- 
fluence with the Arkansas. " The famous John Ross was 
still chief of the Cherokees, and after many years of harass- 
ment and persecution by the white settlers of Georgia, who 
refused to obey the mandate of the Supreme Court of the 
United States, he had at last reluctantly come with his people 
to this distant region. 

"Nov. 28, 184 1. Fort Gibson. I rode three miles to 
the Arkansas to-day. Left my horse and crossed in boat. 
Foimd the celebrated Coocoochee, the Seminole chief. He 
recollected me. Interpreted by Micco and the celebrated 
negro Abram. I told them that the President had sent me 
to see them and carry back a true word that he might know 
what to do for them. They both put in claims for property 
taken by the government for which they had never been paid. 
The chief said he had been promised kettles, axes, etc., but 
they had not come." 

The talk with Coocoochee and Abram was protracted. 
Abram alluded to Florida and said that the Seminoles had 
resolved to make peace and move to the West as they had 
been directed to do, but when they tried to carry out Major 
Hitchcock's instructions, and sent out two negroes and two 
Indians to ask for a truce, they were answered, "Go to hell, 

G — d you! We ask no odds of you,'* and the Florida 

War thereupon continued. 

"Tallequah, Capital of Cherokee nation, Nov. 30. As 
we approached Tallequah, where the national council sits this 
week, we met several persons riding out, men and women 
well dressed and wearing shawls — all well mounted. 'They 
don't look very wild,' I said to a companion. As we came 

Welcomed by John Ross and Coocoochee 139 

in sight of the capital, I saw a number of log houses ranged 
in order along streets — but the houses were very small. One 
was painted. 'The council sits there" said my companion, 
* and the chief lives over there, ' to the left. There were public 
tables, supplied by the Cherokee nation, to which everybody 
was invited to sit down." 

"Dec. I. John Ross, ^ came from his residence near 12, 
noon, and rode into the middle of the council ground and 
tied his horse to a tree. Great numbers were standing round, 
but, Indian-like, no one approached him. I was the first to 
go up and speak to him. We shook hands; questions of 
civility passed, and we separated. He then began a general 
greeting. Many went up and shook hands. It was nearly 
one o'clock before he took his place in a sort of pulpit under 
a large shed and the committee and council and people assem- 
bled to hear the message, for he had just returned from Wash- 
ington, where he had tried to get a new treaty. With Mr. 
Ross was Bushyhead, the Chief Justice, a good-looking, rather 
portly man, 30 or 40 years old. Ross read his message in 
English from manuscript, and it was translated into Chero- 
kee by the Chief Justice, both standing. The auditors were 
seated or standing at pleasure, with hats on, some smoking, 
but all perfect order and silence. The seats were split logs 
supported by legs like a farmer's stool. 

''Ross is in some trouble, for his people suppose they 
have $1,800,000 of their fund remaining; but it has been 
diminished till it is only a little over $300,000." 

"Dec. 6. Fine clear morning. Have spent a day and 
night with John Ross. Dined yesterday with his brother, 
Lewis Ross. He is a wealthy merchant and lives in consid- 
erable style. His cottage is clapboarded and painted, his 
floor carpeted, his furniture — cane-bottom chairs of high 
finish, mahogany sofa, and Boston rocking-chairs, mahogany 
work-table, a very superior Chickering piano, on which his 
unmarried daughter, a young lady of about 18, just from 
school at Rahway, N. J., plays waltzes and sings. She is 

» Ross's Indian name was Kooescoowe. He became chief in 1828. 
While in Georgia a large bribe was offered him to induce his people to move 
west of the Mississippi, but he scornfully refused it, and his tempter was 
publicly disgraced. 

I40 Fifty Years in Camp and Field 

lively and pretty, with rich flowing curls, fine eyes, and beau- 
tiftd ivory teeth. Mrs. Ross is a portly, fine-looking woman, 
just returned from a three-years absence superintending her 
daughter's education. 

"Lewis doesn't like the missionaries. Could tell me noth- 
ing about their doctrines. I asked him about the fall of man, 
infinite sin, man's inability, the necessity of grace, expiatory 
sacrifice, etc. He said, ' I never trouble myself about those 
little things. ' 

"Bushy head testified from his own personal knowledge 
to an officer's treachery in 1837, having been present in the 
camp as an agent in an endeavor to effect the peaceable 
removal of the Indians. " 

Major Hitchcock sought occasion to talk with many In- 
dians about their condition. He visited the coimcil in session. 
** These are a free-minded, free-spirited people, unconventional. 
Seem to be industrious and orderly. I have not seen a drunken 
man since I came into the nation. The habits of life are 
simple and natural. There are few shoemakers or professed 
tailors, but some blacksmiths. No arts of any consequence 
beyond building good log houses, with doors and windows, 
some with glass and sHding sashes. A good deal of poverty. 
No game of any consequence. 

"The Osages sold an immense portion of this western 
country under a treaty negotiated by Gen. William Clark 
for a very small annuity — some $8000 I think — yet the U. S. 
Senate very reluctantly ratified the treaty. I heard General 
Clark say that it was the hardest bargain against the Indians 
he ever made, and that if he was to be damned hereafter it 
would be for making that treaty." 

" Fort Smith, Dec. 14. Many rumors of frauds on Chicka- 
saws. Received statement yesterday from Secretary of War, 
which set forth that upwards of $700,000 worth of provisions 
was purchased for and issued to the Chickasaws. Colonel 
Upshaw, Chickasaw agent, says that some of the agents em- 
ployed to superintend the issue did not attend to their duty 
and he thinks some of the Indians have never got their rations. 
Have written to Secretary asking for copies of contracts, 

"Since, by my present duties, my attention has been 

Fraudulent Issues of Food 141 

called more particularly to external objects, my notes are 
entirely changed in character — practical and not speculative. 

*'I have seen one gallows in the Cherokee nation — 'a, sign 
of civilization. ' I have not heard of a jail of any sort. Most 
punishment is by whipping and this is said to be very sure 
in case of crime." 

Major Hitchcock had now organized a system of inquiry 
into the alleged frauds and had engaged secret agents to bring 
to Hght and justice the plunderers of these tribes. Ross 
alleged that the government agents were also agents of the 
contractors and so accessories. Spoiled beef was delivered 
to the Indians; they were charged with twice as much corn 
as they received; rotten blankets were served to them; false 
names were used; receipts were forged — all this gradually 
became obvious. 

Feeling the importance of his mission and the necessity 
of having justice done and the dishonest punished, Major 
Hitchcock seems to have exhausted every means to discover 
the facts concerning the alleged corruption. If hearsay were 
evidence he heard enough to bring several men to prison. He 
spent nearly a week at Chief Ross's house, making memoranda 
of statements and obtaining important papers concerning the 
methods that had been employed. New Year's Day of 1842 
foimd him taking voluminous notes of varied rascality. Ap- 
parently, the contractors had furnished very lean range cattle — 
so lean that they often fell down and died of starvation before 
reaching the almost equally famished Indians ; they had given 
a fictitious weight and refused to re- weigh ; they had delivered 
droves of cattle, and then laid traps for them, caught them, 
drove them off and issued them again; they had delivered in 
some instances more rations than could be cared for and 
protected, and then got possession of them again; and they 
had bribed interpreters, taken advantage of the ignorance 
of Indians, and defrauded them in every way. Gradually 
evidence of this was obtained. 

It is recorded in this diary that the writer went during 
this winter to Fort Gibson ; to the Sallisaw ; to Webber's Land- 
ing, seventy-five miles from Fort Smith; to Marysville; to 
the Illinois River; to Fort Towson; back to Tallequah; to 
Doaksville ; to Fort Wayne ; to Daniels ; to Thompson ; in fact, 

142 Fifty Years in Camp and Field 

to all inhabited parts of the region, and that everywhere 
he sought and found important and distressing imformation. 
He spent a large part of January, 1842, in the vicinity of 
Fort Wayne, making constant investigation of the frauds of 
the contractors, of which he heard on every hand. ''A 
nephew of the principal agent of the contractors has bought 
tickets or due-bills for beef at one and a-half cents a pound." 

A good many testify that these men had bought up these 
due-bills for "little or nothing." Worn-out oxen and bulls 
were forced upon the half-starving people at an exorbitant 
price. Various white men are pointed out as having made 
$10,000 to $20,000 each in a year in this plunder of the help- 
less. Bribery, perjury, and forgery were the chief agents 
in these infamous transactions. Blacksmiths and wheel- 
wrights were furnished to these tribes at high salaries and 
then they refused to do any work unless paid over again 
for it. Mills were paid for that never had existed. 

The Indian agents and suttlers are found to be mostly 
inveterate gamblers. The story is repeated everywhere that 
one agent is bribed to silence about frauds by the contractors 
paying him $13,000. The air is full of scandals, and the 
official investigator, amid repeated expressions of astonish- 
ment, disgust, and indignation, declares that the foul transac- 
tions shall be probed to the bottom and the thieves punished. 

** 10 P.M., 28th Jan., '42. To-day took down a number 
of statements in regard to issues of provisions, etc. Upon a 
hasty calculation from one statement of provision issues to 
seventy-eight persons for a whole year, it would seem that 
the issues and money together (for some money was paid) 
amounted to about $5 for each individual. The government 
paid the contractors about $45 for each!!!" 

Not only the days of this winter but the nights also were 
given by the Major to the quest, and even Christmas Day 
and Sundays were employed in relentless activity. Instances 
were found where honest men, refusing to use false scales 
and measures, were summarily dismissed from the service 
of government agents and contractors. The investigation 
Was pushed among the Cherokees, Chickasaws, Choctaws, 
Creeks, and Seminoles, and gross robbery was found to have 
been perpetrated against them all. In some parts of the 

Vast System of Robbery 143 

nation the Creeks were so hostile on account of the lying and 
cheating of the whites that the Indian men refused to wear 
pantaloons. ''Why they make this difference," says the 
chronicler, ' ' and wear coats and vests, I do not see. ' ' Probably 
they repudiated the bifurcated garment as the especial symbol 
of the crafty invader. In his researches Major Hitchcock 
became acquainted with many of the peculiar customs, beliefs, 
fetiches, and ceremonies of the people, and gives a detailed 
description of the official "round house" where the sacred 
fire was kept, and a minute accoimt of the busk or green 
com dance held every year in July and August. But he 
keeps an eye on business : 

" 10 A.M. Enehenathla, a chief, tells me that towards the 
close of the year one of the agents came to him and said, 
' You have now raised corn and have enough to live on : you 
had better sell your rations claim. * There was three months' 
rations due, he says, and he and his people received $1.50 
each in money for each claim — only $1.50 for three months' 
rations! Account: 3x30 90 rations X12J cents $11.25. 
So the contractors put into their own pockets $9.75 for 

As a direct result of this cruel robbery whole families 
were swept off by starvation, and tribes, without arithmetic 
enough to know what they were doing or imagination enough 
to picture the needs of the future, allowed themselves to be 
decimated. The robbery by the government agents and 
contractors seems to have been universal within the range of 
inquiry: everywhere testimony was freely offered that only 
half or a quarter of the rations due were really received: 
everywhere there were forgery, substitution, false accounting, 
and the obtaining of ** claims" under compulsion. There 
were twelve deaths in a year in four families. On every hand 
were given the details of peculation. 

"It is a curious fact that the contractors were receiving 
in money over seven cents for each ration issued, besides 
receiving a ration in kind of the salt provision. This last was 
wanted and earnestly demanded by the Indians, but it was 
refused. They appealed to Chief Ross, and when Ross applied 
to the agents he was simply answered that the government 
had not ordered it. The Indians wanted salt meat, for the 

144 Fifty Years in Camp and Field 

fresh beef was so poor that many would not take it at all 
and others exchanged it for bacon under the hardest conditions, 
— ^the very bacon that had originally been bought by the 
government for these Indians!'* 

It was foimd that Indians had been cheated at wholesale 
by a fraudulent status of their claims; that the conductor 
of a steamboat carrying Chickasaws was urged to certify 
to 125 tons of baggage, and finally did certify to 75 tons, 
when there were not over 20 tons on board; that the " square 
box " in which the Indians ' com was measured out was charged 
for half a bushel, but contained seven quarts less ; that there 
was only a pair of small steelyards for weighing beef; that 
spoiled rations to the value of $200,000 had been sold to the 
Chickasaws at one council; that beef cattle were issued at 
800 or 900 pounds each which did not weigh 500; that dis- 
honest contractors had paid large sums of money to govern- 
ment officers; that the claims of "incompetent" Indians and 
orphans had been bought up for a fraction of their value, 
and that horses had been sold to them at $200 each that were 
not worth over $30. In the treaties for the removal of some 
of the tribes, a certain class were deemed and declared "in- 
competent" to manage their share of money, and the gov- 
ernment became a voluntary "agent" for the safety of it. 
"These," says the diarist, "were more abused, that is, 
more cheated, than any others," although they had been 
made by solemn treaty the wards of the United States 

"A generation ago the Chickasaws were almost as wild 
as the wild Indians west of the Cross Timbers. After a time 
they became industrious and ingenious in manufacturing a 
number of articles, particularly of cotton cloth. But since 
they have been in receipt of moneys from the sale of their 
lands east of the Mississippi River they have almost entirely 
given up both industry and art. 

"The annuity to the Choctaws produces idleness and 
poverty on the whole. Is it not the same all the world over? 
Where the bounty of Nature has relieved a population from 
the need to labor, have they not lived for ages in sloth, with 
all its evils ? — ^and is not the reliance upon annuities calculated 
to produce the same restdt? Is not wealth a dangerous 

Indian Laws and Sense of Justice 145 

inheritance among ourselves, and infinitely less valtiable than 
habits of industry ? " 

Some seventy pages of this voluminous diary are occupied 
in the last week of February, 1842, with a discussion of the 
condition of the Indians, with speculations as to how to pro- 
mote their welfare, with a chronicle of rumors and proof of 
frauds perpetrated on them, and with a consideration of 
the details of a report to the War Department. The record 
is sometimes desultory and fragmentary. 

"Change of habits — ^loss of old customs — ^general character 
of customs — ^not savage or sanguinary — simple and in some 
cases highly interesting — respect the aged and the dead — 
some punishments among the Creeks objectionable — crop- 
ping — no jails or penitentiaries, one reason — does n*t work 
a loss of character to undergo punishment but restores charac- 
ter — whence Indians rarely attempt to escape punishment 
even extending to loss of life. No character survives a crime 
unpunished, but when avenged by the law the offender is 
restored. A cropped women may lead off the next dance 
and is all right. This is why women submit to law in India : 
if they do not, they are despised and had better die. 

"The typical Indian is neither a hero nor a savage. The 
want of established law was the true origin of the Indian 
custom of taking life for life. The surviving friends of a 
murdered man will take the life of the murderer, if convenient ; 
if not, they will sacrifice some near relation. But do not 
nations go to war against whole peoples when the individual 
aggressors are beyond reach? All who are related (in a clan 
especially) must answer for the conduct of each individual. 

"In war the alleged barbarous cruelty of Indians admits 
of much extenuation. In a war of one entire tribe or people 
against another tribe or people it is the business of each to do 
the opposite party the greatest possible injury. Indians have 
no jails for the confinement of prisoners of war, and it is 
contended by many civilized nations that prisoners may right- 
fully be put to death when they dangerously weaken the party 
into whose hands they have fallen. Indians are always in 
that condition during war. The celebrated La Pucelle was 
burned alive by the Duke of Bedford. 

"Persons have been put to death among the Indians for 

146 Fifty Years in Camp and Field 

the imaginary crime of witchcraft, but so they have been 
among our own recent ancestors. Occasionally human vic- 
tims have been immolated at the shrine of superstition among 
the Indians; but so they were among the Greeks and Romans, 
and when Carthage was threatened with destiiiction by war 
she devoted to the flames at one time 200 children of noble 
birth. I do not hesitate to give the opinion that, for sim- 
plicity and innocence of manners and customs, the wild 
people of America may challenge comparison with any other 
people upon the globe. 

"Under the general name of heathens they have com- 
manded a vast deal of sympathy on the supposition that 
they were very miserable and devoted to eternal destruction 
hereafter. Immense efforts have been made to root out 
their beautiful illusion by which they expect, as a reward 
of good life, that their spirits shall enjoy unbounded felicity 
in the land of their forefathers, and to substitute — ^what? — 
rather a vile and contemptible fear of hell, instead of hope 
of heaven. 

**By the way, I must not forget what was told me 
yesterday of the law passed in a Cherokee council about the 
killing of witches. The grave council took the subject of 
witchcraft into serious consideration and received testimony 
to the effect that witches had the power to pass into the bodies 
of owls and other animals, travel a long distance, do the mis- 
chief they had in hand, and then return to the human body. 
It was therefore solemnly decreed that it should be lawful 
to put to death any animal in which a witch subsisted, but 
it was forbidden to put to death a human being to kill the 
spirit of the witch. An exceedingly ingenious disposition 
of the matter. The council did not deny the common faith 
in witches, but rendered it perfectly innocent and innocuous. 
How much wiser this than the Salem folks ! 

* * They fear that they will be defrauded of their annuities 
as they have been of their 'incompetent* claims. They are 
generally honest. No trader ought to be permitted to trade 
with Indians, except on his own responsibility and risk. 
His having traded on credit shall not of itself give him a 
right to enter the nation for the purpose of making collections. 
As a general rule, if he trades honestly the Indians will pay; 

Indictment of the Thieves 147 

if they refuse payment, it is prima facie evidence of extortion 
and fraud on his part. I hear cursing in EngHsh, never in 
Indian. There is no oath in any Indian language I have 
ever heard of." 

Major Hitchcock wrote to the Secretary of War (J. C. 
Spencer) in reference to Cherokee affairs on Dec. 21st, from 
Tallequah, and on Jan. 9th from Fort Wayne, and again 
from the same place on Feb. loth, furnishing data for an 
indictment of the robbers. On Jan. 31st he was promoted 
to be Lieutenant-Colonel of the 3d Infantry, stationed in 

"Fort Smith, March 7. Arrived last evening and was 
made at home at Gen. Zachary Taylor's, my old Lieutenant- 
Colonel of the 8th Infantry, when i was Adjutant. Nothing 
can be more friendly than his reception of me. 

''I might be flattered if I chose by an order from Wash- 
ington, March ist, received by General Taylor yesterday, direct- 
ing precisely what I recommended to the Secretary of War 
by letter from Fort Wayne. Fort Wayne is ordered to be 
immediately abandoned and a new post established about a 
hundred miles south of Fort Leavenworth. The property 
at Fort Wayne is even ordered to be disposed of exactly as 
I recommended — portions sold and portions conveyed to 
Fort Gibson. I did not expect such complimentary and 
prompt action when I wrote expressing my sentiments." 

At Fort Smith he met Capt. W. W. S. Bliss of his old 
regiment, serving the commander as Assistant Adjutant- 
General. Bliss was a student, and a thoughtful and scholarly 
man, and here the two resumed those discussions of Kant 
and Lessing and the ancient and modem philosophers which 
had previously served to make tolerable the tedium of frontier 
life. Lieutenant-Colonel Hitchcock also wrote repeatedly and 
with considerable detail to the Secretary of War. In less 
than a week he parted from his old friends again, "for Little 
Rock and then perhaps Washington." It is impossible to 
convey in these brief pages the impression given in the abun- 
dant diaries of his assiduous labor at this time. He was 
seldom in a place two days in succession. From camp to 
camp, from fort to fort, from Choctaw village to Cherokee, 
from house to house, he pressed everywhere his persistent 

148 Fifty Years in Camp and Field 

inquiries, made notes, took depositions, collected letters, 
copied documents, personal and official; was evidently close 
on the track of the* robbers. 

"Napoleon, Mouth of Arkansas River, March i6. Saw 
a boat in the distance going down the river On landing 
here had the agreeable intelligence that two boats had but 
a few minutes before left for New Orleans. So I was here 
just in time to be too late. Maybe they '11 blow up! The 
Rev. John Newton was once too late to join a boat-party 
of pleasure, and was quite grieved. But the boat was lost, 
the party drowned, and the Rev. John was convinced of a 
special interposition of Providence in his behalf! Now, I 
have not so much objection to this if those lost were admitted 
to be lost by the interposition of the same Providence. Dean 
Swift (in the Tale of a Tub, I think) sets off in fine style 
the conceit of those who fancy themselves distinguished as 
the special objects of Providential care. To say that God 
does this or does that, especially, implies that He does not 
do that or this. Now he does this and that and all things. 

**Had hardly noted the above when I heard that a boat 
was coming down — ^the Macedonian, a large St. Louis steamer. 

''Steamer Macedonian, March i6. On my way to Wash- 
ington via New Orleans. Do not know a soul aboard and 
see no one I desire to know. Few passengers, and most of 
them around a table — ^my abomination, a card table — ^with 
tumblers on the comers. Retired to my state room and 
thought about infinity, etc. I deny that either hope or fear 
is or can be religion, whether it points to objects here or 

The diarist gives abundant evidence of being impressed 
with the appearance of the great river, full to its bank-tops 
and of almost limitless width, — ^here and there bursting through 
the levee and desolating the country. Notes also the shabby 
towns along its course and several times recurs to their 
dishevelled condition and to the wide-sweeping, aggressive, 
menacing river. But, as he finds no companions, he dwells 
mostly on metaphysics, philosophy and philosophers, religion, 
free will and necessarianism, man's duty and destiny, the 
real origin and utility of the Bible, which he spells with a 
small b, the essentials of reHgion, and comparisons between 

Introspection and Reminisence 149 

the Christian creed and other creeds that preceded it. And 
of such contemplations he writes scores of pages, mostly in 
pencil, but with a careful indication of every letter, and with 
a firm, vertical stroke which renders the pencil writing, after 
more than half a century, as legible as when written. 

For the subjective and introspective tendencies of his 
mind, and especially for often dwelling on religious subjects, 
he speaks apologetically, or, rather, explanatorily and defen- 
sively, as follows: 

**Why should I not record my views of religion? The 
Christian hears a service on the first Monday of every month, 
usually three sermons every seventh day, and often prayers 
and sacred psalms every morning and evening, besides other 
occasions, as Christmas, etc., to say nothing of marriages, 
births, and deaths. And this is not only thought to be all 
right, but the neglect of it is condemned as sinful by most 
people. I find satisfaction in stating and reflecting upon 
the great doctrine of Pantheism, in which my mind becomes 
a part of the universe — of God Himself. " 

The diarist proceeds to consider the value of his own 
opinion or conviction on any question. He comes to the 
conclusion that if there are eight hundred million people in 
the world, the value of his belief to them is about as one to 
eight hundred millions, but its value to him is as eight hundred 
millions to one! And he goes on to say: ''It is certain that 
all the arguments used against the free speech of infidels 
were once used against Wicliffe and the reformers — ^and more 
too, for in those days the state burned to death those who 
were 'infidel' to the state church. Toleration is the true 
law." The writer is moved by the majesty of the swollen 
river and the paucity and poverty of the people along its 
banks. Time glides dreamily by, and he forgets to record 
the day of the month and even of the week : 

"J past nine. Wooding 70 miles below Natchez. The 
banks of the river are beginning to look green. Trees are 
in leaf and present a very different appearance from that of 
three days ago in the Arkansas. Very warm. Air sultry. " 

Somewhat later: "I look at my watch. *T is J past 
5 P.M. and I sharpen my pencil to note the exact time the 
boat turns from Baton Rouge and proceeds on her way. 

150 Fifty Years in Camp and Field 

I note this with utmost deUberation, and yet how I gaze at 
that place and seek familiar objects! The barracks are where, 
if not as, they were 20 years ago when I was on duty here. " 
The barracks were identifiable, but the voyager sought, 
without much success, to locate certain houses where, when 
he was a young lieutenant, he was often welcomed. He finds 
Baton Rouge, in most respects, '* detested and detestable," 
but it presents ameliorations of this condition. He catches 
a glimpse of a house — ^it now looks '* desolate and deserted" — 
where '*a Spanish family of pretty girls lived"; there he 
*' sometimes heard music — song, piano, guitar," and below 
were the woods through which the susceptible subaltern 
*' sauntered many a time just because the beautiful Made- 
moiselle Duplantier lived there. She captivated me at a 
ball, I remember, but, as she spoke no English and I no French, 
I 'never told my love.' " In other weather-beaten dwellings, 
he remembers, lived Helen and Nancy and other pretty girls, 
and they stirred his fancy again on this spring day till Baton 
Rouge had faded, as they had, in the distance. Perhaps 
it was some of these unaccustomed reminiscences that moved 
him to add in his diary that afternoon, ' ' I w4sh I were in the 
way of making a clear income of a thousand a year, for then 
I would resign from the army." He reached New Orleans 
March 2 2d, and proceeded towards Washington, pausing at 
Mobile to call upon the family of his late brother. Judge 



COLONEL HITCHCOCK'S visit to the Creeks and Chero- 
kees, for the purpose of investigating frauds and ex- 
posing the criminals, was punctutated by an interview 
with Milly Francis, by this time widely known as "the heroine 
of the Seminole War. " Captain John Smith's narrative of his 
adventures and "providential escape" through the romantic 
intercession of a brown princess of Virginia has been made 
the subject of much incredulous comment, but Milly Francis 
furnished a parallel instance more than two centuries later. 

Colonel Hitchcock after a little inquiry discovered her liv- 
ing in poverty in the Southwest, heard the strange story from 
her lips, and induced Congress to pass a special law giving 
her a pension of $96 per annum "as a testimonial of the grati- 
tude and bounty of the United States for the humanity dis- 
played by her in the War of 181 7-18, in saving the life of an 
American citizen who was a prisoner in the hands of her people 
and was about to be put to death. " The modern Pocahontas 
had descended from affluence to want, from happiness to 
misery, from a home to charity, but she was still distinguished 
among her dwindling and impoverished people for the strange 
vicissitudes of her life. For a quarter of a century her friends 
and neighbors had pointed her out as the Indian girl who 
had saved the life of an American officer. Here follows the 
narrative: The "prophet Francis" or Hilisajo, as he was 


152 Fifty Years in Camp and Field 

called among the Seminoles, lived near Fort St. Marks, on the 
Gulf of Mexico south of where now stands Tallahessee, and 
was one of the best known and most influential local chiefs. 
In the summer of 1815, he went to England with a British 
officer and created much enthusiasm, being received by the 
Prince Regent (George IV.) with great ceremony, given a 
commission as brigadier-general in the British army, and 
presented with a diamond snuff-box, a gold-mounted toma- 
hawk, and a gorgeous uniform. A London paper of that 
time says, "A double flourish of trumpets announced the 
approach to his Royal Highness of the patriot Francis.** 
It does not appear that the Prophet ever tried seriously to 
help Great Britain in the war then pending, for he came home 
the next year "determined to live at peace with the white 
man. *'• 

In the summer of 181 7, a small party of Seminoles sur- 
prised and captured while fishing in the river one Captain 
Duncan McKrimmon, a member of the Georgia militia, and 
they made arrangements to sacrifice him at the stake near 
the home of Francis. The following is the story as told by 
Milly to Colonel Hitchcock — it is the same that Captain 
McKrimmon told all his life : 

** Milly began by saying that an elder sister and herself 
were playing on the bank of the river, when they heard a 
war-cry, which they understood to signify that a prisoner had 
been taken. They immediately went in the direction of 
the cry and found a white man, entirely naked, tied to a tree, 
and two young warriors, with their rifles, dancing around him 
preparatory to putting him to death, as was their right ac- 
cording to custom. She explained to me that in such cases 
the life of a prisoner is in the hands of the captors — even 
the chiefs have no authority in the case. She was then but 
fifteen or sixteen years of age; 'the prisoner was a young 
man* said Milly, 'and seemed very much frightened and 
looked wildly around to see if anybody would help him. 
I thought it a pity that a young man like him should be put 
to death and I spoke to my father and told him it was a pity 
to kill him — ^for he had no head to go to war with * (meaning 
that he had been led off by others). *My father told me,* 
continued Milly, 'that he could not save him, and advised 

Interview with Milly Francis 153 

me to speak to the Indians. I did so. One of them was 
very much enraged, saying he had lost two sisters in the 
war and would put the prisoner to death. I told him that 
it would not bring his sisters back to kill the young man, 
and so, talking to him for some time, I finally persuaded him, 
and he said that if the young man would agree to have his 
head shaved, and dress like an Indian, and live among them, 
they would save his life. ' She then proposed the conditions 
to the white man, which were joyftilly accepted; and the 
Indians changed the contemplated death scene into a frolic. 
They shaved the young man's head, excepting the scalp 
lock, which was ornamented with feathers, and, after painting 
him and providing him an Indian dress, he was set at liberty 
and adopted as one of the tribe. " 

On the return of her father from England Milly received 
handsome presents of dresses, shoes, and bonnets and much 
unaccustomed finery, and learned to make graceful use of 
them. Captain McKrimmon paid suit to her and asked her 
to marry him, but she declined, saying: *'I did not save you 
for that. I do not want any man." A young Englishman 
named Ambrister also applied for the hand of ''the princess, " 
as she was called by her English acquaintances, but she de- 
clined all offers. He lived only to perish at the hands of 
Jackson's hangman. 

Parton's Life of Jackson says that a man named Rodgers, 
of Rock Island, 111., who claimed to have been in the early 
Florida wars, has reported as follows*. 

**Just before General Jackson went to Florida in the spring 
of 1818, a ship came into the roadstead at St. Mark's fi3dng the 
British colors conspicuously. Captain McKrimmon, having 
been informed of her sinister mission, rowed out to her and 
climbed aboard. Then more British flags were displayed, 
and shortly the two local chiefs who had sided with the Brit- 
ish — the 'Prophet Francis' and his comrade Himollemico — 
paddled out in their canoe to visit the friendly ship. The 
captain welcomed them on deck and invited them into his 
cabin to ' partake of hospitalities. ' They followed him with- 
out suspicion. A guard of American marines rushed out 
of their hiding-places and made them prisoners. Then they 
observed that in the cabin hung only American flags. The 

154 Fifty Years in Camp and Field 

ship was a trap, treacherously set under a false flag to catch 
the sympathizers with England. 

"Soon Captain McKrimmon made his appearance before 
the prisoners. *Ah!' said Francis, turning on him with 
dignified scorn, 'this is what I get for saving your life!* 

" 'You did not save my life,' said McKrimmon, *it was 
your daughter. I will do all I can to save you. ' 

** McKrimmon looking through a glass that afternoon 
discovered Milly paddling around the bay inspecting the 
ship and she was fired on from its deck. She seized a rifle 
from the bottom of the canoe and returned the fire.'* 

The next morning Jackson arrived through the woods 
from the north. He had already written to Washington: 
"The Prophet Francis, now leading a band of slaves enticed 
from their masters, citizens of the United States, is exciting 
the Seminoles to hostility. . . . It is important that 
these men should be captured and made an example of." 
Here on the ship at vSt. Mark's he found the chief in his power, 
still wearing, when he was treacherously seized, the handsome 
British uniform that had been given him by the Prince Royal 
in London. 

General Jackson seems to have been a cruel and inhimian 
commander. His conduct in Florida was as arbitrary and 
despotic as that of any czar who ever sat on the throne of 
the Romanoffs. He ruled in defiance of law. He invaded 
the territory of a king with whom we were at peace, captured 
his forts, drove off his armies, and executed alleged offenders 
without a shadow of authority. In all but name he was an 
emperor. He now took possession of the two chiefs who had 
been seized on the vessel, arrested also one Ambrister and a 
harmless middle-aged merchant named Arbuthnot, and caused 
all four to be hanged or shot as enemies of the United States! 

To return to Colonel Hitchcock's interview with Milly: 
She had long since been married and had eight children. Her 
husband was dead. "I asked Milly how she lived," he says. 
"She told me that she was very poor and had to work hard. 
Her father was put to death in the war. Of eight children 
but three are living, too young to help. She is now about 
forty years old, and after having seen her and being entirely 
satisfied with the truth of her story I am induced to recom- 

Interview with Milly Francis 155 

mend that the government grant a small pension for her 
support in her old age, in consideration of her extraordinary 
and humane act. A small pension ($50 or $75 a year) with 
a clear explanation of the grounds of its allowance may have 
a salutary influence on savage customs in future times. The 
Seminoles have possession of the negroes whom her father 
left her and she has been unable to reclaim them. " 

As the result of earnest solicitation and advocacy on the 
part of Colonel Hitchcock a bill granting a pension to Milly 
was favorably reported to the House of Representatives by 
the Indian Committee giving her $96 per annum during life. 
The committee's report says: ''The committee see a strong 
argument in favor of this dispensation of the bounty of the 
government, not only in the relief which it will afford to 
the immediate recipient whose conduct has so well deserved 
it, but also in the effect which it is calculated to produce 
by teaching the still uncivilized though gradually improving 
people to whom she belongs the virtue of humanity." The 
bill also provided that a gold medal should be struck and 
** transmitted to the said Milly, with appropriate devices 
thereon, as an additional testimonial of the gratitude of the 
United States." 

Congress was dilatory, as usual, but the bill passed and 
was approved two years later, June 17, 1844. Then it took 
the administration four years more to issue her pension, 
and it finally reached her when she no longer needed it and 
was handed to her upon her dying bed in 1848. 



WASHINGTON CITY, April 's, 1842. Arrived via 
Charlseton, Wilmington, Weldon, Portsmouth, and 
Baltimore. Lord Ashburton arrived last evening. 
I have seen and been well received by the Secretary of War, 
Mr. Spencer, whom I never saw before. He says I must 
give him all the aid in my power in his negotiations with the 
Cherokees. And he is evidently well prepared to listen to 
my reports from the Southwest. Have had a friendly inter- 
view with the Commissioner of Indian Affairs— with General 
Scott, etc., etc. 

** Have the official order for my promotion to be Lieute- 
nant-Colonel. ** 

Early in April Colonel Hitchcock reported to the Secre- 
tary of War many facts showing that the government agent 
for the Chickasaws was oppressive and corrupt, and recom- 
mended his peremptory removal for cause. He also con- 
demned several prominent contractors as entirely unworthy 
of government recognition. 

"April isth. Several days in Washington have con- 
vinced me that the Second Auditor is making attempts to 

screen Captain , from the effect of my examination in 

the Southwest. The first thing I noticed was a deception and 
in fact virtually a false report from his office in answer to 
a call of mine for information. He says that certain issues 
to the Chickasaws were for four years, while the true time 


Exposure of Indian Atrocities and Frauds 157 

is nineteen months. The next circumstance is perfectly dis- 
gusting: General Chief Clerk of the War Department, 

spoke to me on Monday, suggesting danger to Mr. Bell (late 

Secretary) if my report should affect , as Mr. Bell set on 

foot the investigation. He enlarged on the influence and power 
of the family in Tennessee. The next day he twice renewed 
the same theme and expressed again the very same words. 
He was enboldened to recur to it because I did not insult 
him when he dared to address me at first. I did not choose 
to show my indignation, but simply said that if my report 

should bring Mr. Bell and Captain into conflict, I 

could not help it. 

*'I see also a marked change of manner in the Secretary 
of War, who seems to avoid conversation with me at the 
house where we both board. And the Indian Commissioner, 
Mr. Crawford, is full of 'possibilities' and 'probabilities,' in 
excuse of Captain : ' Indians can be made to say any- 
thing,' etc. I shall make my report without regard to any- 
thing or anybody but the facts." 

"April 28, 1842. I have at length handed to the Secre- 
tary of War my report upon the manner in which the emigrant 
Indians in the Southwest were furnished rations in 183 7-' 40. 
I appended to it just one hundred documents and statements. 
The former are extracts from the contracts, etc.; the latter 
from persons in that country as to their execution. I show, 
I think conclusively, that whereas contracts had been given 
out down to 1836 at 6^ cents a ration and no contract over 
9 cents, those given out after that date were g-^ cents and 
so up to 16 cents, with no sufficient necessity to justify it. 
For the execution of the contracts, I show that the Indians 
were cheated by false measures in furnishing com and by 
false estimates in delivering beef on the hoof, and finally 
by the purchase of the claims of the Indians for *a mere 

The drastic recommendation to remove the favorite agent 
from office was supported by a "bushel of documents," fur- 
nishing, the Colonel believed, abundant proof of guilt. The 
administration, however, hesitated to charge its own party's 
officials with felonious acts, and adopted dilatory measures. 

**May 20. I am told that the chairman of the Committee 

158 Fifty Years in Camp and Field 

on Indian Affairs, H. of R., has called for my report to the 
Secretary of War. This morning I talked with the Secretary 
about the matter. He says he will not furnish the report. 
There may be a squabble. Even impeachment is threatened . ' ' 

' 'June 2 . The House yesterday passed a resolution author- 
izing the Indian Committee to send for persons and papers 
on the subject of the frauds investigated by me in the South- 
west. The Secretary of War yesterday sent the Committee 
a letter refusing to transmit my report. Now comes the 

''June 4. Secretary Spencer told me this evening that 
the House has to-day been in debate on his refusal to send 
my report. He has sent a letter giving his reasons for with- 
holding it, and this refusal has to-day been the subject of 
violent discussion. He puts his refusal on the ground that 
the inquiries made by me were ex parte, and that it would 
be unjust to those implicated to publish the result. He says 
this evening that it has now become a question of principle, 
and the House shall not have the report without his heart's 
blood. I hope his motive for withholding it is good, but 
politicians are slippery bipeds. He knows, as well as any 
man can, that I conducted the investigation with perfect 
fairness. I am sure there is no appearance of partiality or 
bias of any sort." 

"June 15. No action of the House yet on my report. I 
discover that the Secretary would rather have me out of 
the way. He has intimated as much, saying that they may 
summon me, and he does n't wish me to get into any diffi- 
culty with the House. His wife told me yesterday that she 
is urging the Secretary to appoint me Inspector-General of 
the Army." 

The diarist records his opinion that "there are others" 
who would like to have him out of Washington. The Indian 
Commissioner tried to detain him on account of his familiarity 
with Indian matters, "but General Scott would rather have 
me away, although he and I 'shook hands.* (See Gil Bias.) " 

On June 29th Secretary Spencer received a letter ^ from 

» Here is an extract from it: "I beg pardon of the Secretary of War for 
these indignant remarks. Lieut. Col. Hitchcock is no doubt an officer of 
good general intelligence and of high capacity for certain kinds of business. 

Secretary Refuses to Furnish It 159 

General Scott in which he spoke of Colonel Hitchcock with 
some exasperation. This the Secretary handed to the Colonel, 
who read it and returned it with the remark "I am little 
moved, knowing the true source of the General's feelings." 

The letter ended with the announcement * * I shall certainly 
send Lieut. Col. Hitchcock to his regiment in Florida the 
moment he is released from special duty under the immediate 
orders of the Secretary. " 

WHiile waiting orders in Washington Hitchcock retires 
within himself again and finds time to indulge in those meta- 
physical speculations and introspections which had occupied 
so many of his leisure hours before the busy summer among 
the "emigrant Indians." He kept up a correspondence with 
Captain Bliss, the assiduous student and scholar who married 
the daughter of General Taylor and became his chief of staff. 
Bliss was about the only companion of high literary attain- 
ments that Hitchcock could claim, if he could claim as a com- 
panion in any sense one who was generally far away on the 
frontier. Together or apart they sympathetically discussed 
Hegel and Kant, lamblichus, Goethe, and Carlyle, Locke, 
Glanville, and the philosophy of modern thinkers, especially 
of Germany — a philosophy, he says, which teaches '*a faith 
freed, I hope, from the gross superstitions which give so 
many religions of the world a forbidding aspect." And 
then he illustrated with a quotation from a sermon by Jona- 
than Edwards. 1 

"The celebrated Knox once in a prayer," records the 
diarist, "asked forgiveness for the sin of not having perse- 
cuted sufficiently God's enemies." 

But he seems to have lost his military pride, and to think that the army 
would be an excellent place for him were it not for the soldiers!" Scott 
changed his mind four or five years later at the beginning of the war with 

» "The wicked will be destroyed in the view of the saints and other 
inhabitants of Heaven. When the Saints in Heaven shall look upon the 
damned in Hell it will prove to them a greater sense of their own happiness : 
the misery of the damned will give them a greater sense of the distinguishing 
grace and love of God to them that He should, from all eternity, set His love 
on them and make so great a difference between them and others who are 
of the same species and deserve no worse of God than they. When they 
shall look upon the damned and see their misery how will Heaven ring with 
the praises of God's justice towards the wicked and His grace towards the 

i6o Fifty Years in Camp and Field 

From private contemplation and reminiscence he always 
passed readily to public affairs. Observing what seems to 
have been a dim adumbration of the great Civil War of 1861, 
he writes (twenty years earlier) : 

"We are now tending to anarchy, and may find ourselves 
in civil war before many years. 

'*I have been much struck with the irregularities of the 
present Congress. Men with no talent or education seem to 
sway the whole body. . . . When I see fools legislating 
and disordering things, I say, * Would it not be wiser to leave 
things to take their own course?* Then I look behind the 
said legislators, as it were, and say, 'Things are taking their 
own course — ^this is their own course.* " 

Having reached this philosophical conclusion he several 
times appeared before the Finance Committee of the Senate 
and gave testimony concerning the pending bill "for the 
reduction of the army. " 

"Sunday, July 10. Have been in an excited and irritated 
state nearly all day. Flies exceedingly troublesome and 
vexatious. Will not be driven away. Light on me and 
return immediately after being brushed off. So, then, an 
immortal soul can be bothered by such a trfie.i 

"I am in a delicate position — sustained here by the direct 
authority of the Secretary against the wishes of the General- 
in-Chief and despite his bitter and declared personal 

Knowing that General Scott had declared his intention of 
ordering him to his regiment, "instantly," as soon as given 
authority over him by the Secretary, Colonel Hitchcock at- 
tempted to anticipate and forestall such action by suggesting 
it to the Secretary at their boarding-house — ^without the result 
expected, it would seem. 

"I waited until after dinner when, seeing Mr. Spencer 
going up-stairs, I called to him and asked if he could spare 
me a moment. 

"He stopped and turned around, saying, *No, I cannot. 
I am going out to dinner and must dress immediately. ' 

» Jefferson says that swarms of flies from an adjoining stable tormenting 
the members of the Continental Congress hastened the signing of the Decla- 
ration of Independence! 

Scott Furious i6i 

"I tarried at the foot of the stairs and Mr. S. added, *Is it 
anything requiring time?' 

"I said, *0h, only a moment.' I went up the stairs to 
where he was standing and, taking the letter I had written 
out of my pocket, offered it to him, saying, *I wish merely to 
say that, in case I am ordered to my regiment — * I was 
going to add that I wanted his authority to go to New York 
before setting out for Florida, to get some baggage there, 
but he gave me no time, and I suppose misapprehended me 
as intimating that some person other than himself had threat- 
ened to order me to my regiment, for he remarked qtdckly, 
abruptly, and almost angrily: *You can't be ordered to your 
regiment. I want you here. You will obey nobody. You 
are under my orders ! I cannot spare you ! ' 

' * These are as exactly his words as I could make them 
out. I said, handing him the letter, 'Will you take this, 
sir, and look at it?' As I turned away and descended the 
stairs he repeated that I was under his exclusive orders. 
Now I think I have placed myself in the proper position." 

''July 28th. Still in Washington. Have had a most 
satisfactory conversation with the Secretary." 

"The 3d Regiment has been ordered from Florida. This 
is all right, but it has created a tremendous excitement 
against me in the 8th. General Scott is furious. The thought, 
of it almost makes me sick — not that I have been in the wrong, 
but it is so unpleasant to be engaged in any controversy. 
A General-in-Chief can raise a considerable stir with very 
little to go upon." 

"Aug. 5. I begin to see daylight. The Secretary of 
War has furnished me a letter expressing his entire appro- 
bation of my course and complimenting me for my whole 
deportment with him."i 

"nth August. The House has almost regularly every 
morning had the report of the Committee on Indian Affairs 
(touching Mr. Spencer's refusal to send my Indian report) 
under discussion during the morning hour these last ten or 

» Secretary Spencer's long letter of approval ends as follows: **I cannot 
close this communication without bearing testimony to the propriety of 
your whole conduct since I have been acquainted with you, and particu- 
larly to the modest reserve which has on all occasions distinguished your 
deportment. " 

1 62 Fifty Years in Camp and Field 

fifteen days. I have been an unconcerned spectator. If it 
is published those who are implicated will make a desperate 
assault on me. Since the General's assault I have felt almost 
unequal to standing up under the combined attack of the 
General-in-Chief and the friends of exposed rogues. I feel 
very much the want of an independent fortune that would 
enable me to defy the General himself and retire from the 
army. This is the greatest trial I have ever had. If I should 
tell the truth I should be first arrested and then court-mar- 
tialled for disrespect to the General-in-Chief. ** 

At last, on Aug. 13th, the House of Representatives passed 
by more than two to one three resolutions declaring that 
Congress had a right to ''demand'' from the executive Hitch- 
cock's report to the Secretary of War and ended by "request- 
ing" the President to furnish said report. But the matter 
dragged along and the diarist indicated in his entries that he 
was a good deal worried, and he again gave himself to philoso- 
phical meditations with the remark: "I find so little to interest 
me in the military profession that I had rather study or read 
books of philosophy. I fear I am not in my proper vocation — 
-that is, I have read and studied myself out of it. The study 
of philosophy and my general reading have subdued all spirit 
for action and induced a wish to retire from the world into 
some solitude." 

While suffering from this depression of spirits he started 
for Vermont, to revisit the home of his youth, and reached 
Burlington a little too late to attend the funeral of his mother, 
who died on Aug. 27th. Thus passed away, at the age of 75, 
the last of Ethan Allen's children by his first wife. She was 
a woman of great courage and independence of character, 
and there is abundant evidence that she fully appreciated the 
qualities of her son. In 1834, she wrote to him ** Ethan, I 
have had many blessings. Among the first is the standing 
and character you have justly acquired. I am perfectly 
satisfied. 'Tis not fame and high sounding fame for some 
few deeds, but the uniform correctness of your life. Your 
character is formed to my liking." And still later she wrote 
him, on his return from the Seminole campaign, "My dear 
son: I have received your letter and am relieved, though 
sad for your great sufferings which I learn by the papers. 

Ethan Allen's Daughter 163 

. . . I could expatiate in the common cant. I supposed 
you wotdd be engaged and was pleased that you engaged as 
you did. Had it been your fate never to return still I should 
have said and felt that I was glad you volunteered as you 
did." Are not these the tones of the Spartan mother? A 
month or two before her death she wrote '*We have had 
eulogies on your noble self from all our friends. Now I must 
be a wonderful woman to have such a son. " The last time 
he saw her he wrote to his brother Samuel, *' Her countenance 
is not altered at all since we left her, and it is the greatest 
satisfaction to find her mind preserve its equanimity and 
her conversation the vein of natural good sense and cheer- 
fulness that always characterized it. She is every way a 
remarkable woman, worthy to be the daughter of Colonel 

For his great services in the Revolution Congress voted Ethan 
Allen a valuable land grant, but the family did not avail them- 
selves of it, and, the time authorizing its entry having expired, 
the deed of gift was left, at his daughter's death, among the 
unavailable assets of his bequest. 

'*At last General Worth reports 'a thorough pacification 
of Florida.' How? By doing precisely that which was so 
urgently recommended nearly two years ago by myself, 
first to Mr. Poinsett, Secretary of War, and then to Mr. Bell, 
his successor. Worth was chosen to supersede Armistead, 
chiefly by my urgent argument, that he might carry out this 
very policy. He has 'paciaed' the Indians probably in the 
precise manner I suggested, after nearly two years of additional 
and expensive war costing twenty million dollars. And now 
he is made Brigadier-General for it! This almost makes me 
exclaim against the humbug of the world ! " 



FLORIDA did not stay pacified, even after its "thorough 
pacification. " In eastern Florida the Seminoles had 
either allowed themselves to be removed or had re- 
treated to the yast and mysterious Okechobee swamp, where 
their descendants still hunt and fish and maintain peaceful 
intercourse with the whites on the borders of the Everglades. 
But in western Florida the camp-fires of the "runaway 
Creeks*' from Georgia still lighted up the marshes, their canoes 
still commanded the OcMocknee and Choctawhatchee, and 
their war-whoop still startled the sparse settlements around 
Tallahassee. They were not very numerous, being estimated 
at "40 warriors," but they were very aggressive and san- 
guinary. Their hiding-places in the immense swamp-wilder- 
ness were almost inaccessible to white men. From these 
jungles they would sally forth and suddenly make warlike 
excursions into the white settlements and as suddenly retreat 
to their ambuscade, leaving death and ashes in their path. 
They plundered and murdered with almost entire impunity, 
scarcely ever allowing themselves to be seen, but committing 
their depredations in the shortest possible time and flying 
again to their fastnesses. 

The Southern Indians not only refused to go to Arkansas 
or to make a treaty of any kind as long as it could be avoided, 
but they pitilessly enforced one of their "laws" punishing 


Hostile Remnant of Seminoles 165 

with death any Indian who proposed emigration. "As an 
illustration of this fierce spirit," writes the diarist, ** during 
the past winter an Indian woman was sent out from one of 
our posts to invite Coosa Tustenugga's band to a conference 
with a view to emigration. The woman was taken and put 
to death, and her body cut in pieces, 'to freshen up the laws, ' 
as the chief explained to his people. " 

On more than one occasion, in alleged retaliation, they 
intercepted stages and robbed and murdered the passengers, 
rendering all travel perilous and difficult. Finally, on Aug. 3 1 , 
1842, a party of these hostile Creeks attacked the residence 
of a Mr. Perkins, near Holmes's Valley, Washington County, 
and murdered the whole family in reprisal for injuries claimed 
to have been received from the whites of the vicinity. The 
settlers were in terror and many left the country. These 
facts were widely published, to General Worth's chagrin and 
discomfiture. The State militia, taking the trail, failed to 
find a single Indian in all this region, and finally Governor 
Call appealed to the President of the United States. In this 
dilemma General Worth answered the appeal of the Secretary 
of War by calling upon Hitchcock to join the 3d Regiment, 
still in western Florida, of which he had been made Lieu- 
tenant-Colonel, and "clear out the Indians, " and, if possible, 
destroy 1 them. He accepted the duty as he understood it, 
and resolved to remove them without the shedding of blood — 
for he believed that was the only wise way to deal with so- 
called savages. His headquarters were to be at Fort Stans- 
bury, twelve miles south of Tallahassee. 

Diary: "I have been much with Indians and look upon 
them as a part of the great human family, capable of being 
reasoned with and susceptible of passions and affections 
which, rightly touched, will secure moral results with almost 
mechanical certainty. I repeatedly urged Mr. Poinsett, 
when he was Secretary of War, to voluntarily assign to the 
Indians some small part of Florida, and they would soon 
be willing to go West. One reason why the Indians would 
not surrender is that they were under the impression that 

> The government does not seem to have contemplated taking any pris- 
oners or sparing any women or children, as the Secretary of War directed 
him to "pursue, capture, and destroy these Indians." 

1 66 Fifty Years in Camp and Field 

they would be killed if they did so. Years of bloody piirsuit 
of them makes it absolutely necessary to give them assurance 
of protection and security. . . . Even if the war was 
originally unavoidable, which I do not believe, there have 
been many lives and at least ten million dollars wasted to pay 
for a ridiculous pride in warring against a handful of abused 
savages. " 

Colonel Hitchcock left New York on Sept. loth to rejoin 
his regiment in Florida, pursuing the following route: "To 
Pittsburg, 4 days; to the Cumberland, 5 days; to Nashville, 
4 days; remained 5 days; to New Orleans, 6 days; to Mobile, 
I day; Choctawhatchee, 3 days; Tallahassee, 2 days; = 30 
days altogether." Railroad to Harrisburg; canal-boat to 
Holidaysburg along the Juanita; cars over the mountains, 
**5 planes up and 5 down, some of them f of a mile long"; 
canal-boat again to Pittsburg; steamboat to Marysville; 
stage to Lexington; stage to Nashville; stage (120 miles) 
to Huntsville, Ala.; wagon (100 miles) to Elyton; wagon to 
Montgomery ; stage to Macon and Tallahassee. 

This traveller seems to have carried a library with him 
ever3^here and to have lived with it amid all conceivable 
inconveniences. On this varied journey he read the plays 
of John Webster, an almost forgotten contemporary of Shake- 
speare, and a philosophical treatise of Toland; Plotinus and 
G\a.nvi\le' sConsuetudintbiis Anglios (12th century) ; the curious 
works of De Beauvais Priault and the Defence of Pythagoras; 
mitigated the discomforts of the miserable Ohio steamboat 
by lengthy quotations in his diary from the Novum Organum, 
and seasoned the grandeurs of the Alleghanies with comments 
and meditations on Gibbon and Carlyle and the Institutes 
of Menu. The descriptions and reflections of this tiresome 
zig zag journey occupy two diaries of a hundred pages 

Colonel Hitchcock reached Florida about the loth of 
October, paused at Fort Gamble, and was dined and enter- 
tained by old friends. Proceeded to Fort Hamilton and 
Fort Pleasant and thence to Fort Stansbury. Inspected the 
3d Infantry. "Much as I have been absent from soldiers 
my experience on duty with cadets has left its effect upon 
me, and I would to-morrow drill a regiment with any field 

Hitchcock Recalled 167 

officer in service. My voice is clear and my manner entirely 
free from impatience." His own opinion thus frankly ex- 
pressed to himself is abundantly corroborated by the voluntary 
testimony of all his military comrades. As a tactician and 
disciplinarian he probably was without an equal during these 
years, and he brought every regiment with which he was 
connected up to a high efficiency. A visiting officer said, 
**It is a delight to see Hitchcock handle his men." The 
Colonel of the regiment, Many, was an invalid, and absent 
for years. 

The camp of the 3d Infantry was pleasantly situated 
and was soon converted into a cantonment, disposed in a 
parallelogram, embracing ample space for parades and exer- 
cises. These were pursued so energetically that the regiment 
was carried through a complete course of instruction and 
was so perfected in drill as to attract much attention for 
years, extending even to its service in Mexico. 

"There is something indescribably solemn and grand in 
the moaning of the wind through the tall pines among which 
my post is situated — ^like the sounds when the tremendous 
ocean broke upon the beach at Mobile Point. I am here 
a little while in this infinite scene. Men mistake in supposing 
their relative notions to be absolute. As in astronomy there 
is no up or down, over or under, so in morals our feelings 
are relative to human sentiment, and absolutely, that is to 
God, all things are equal." 

**Fort Stansbury, Nov. 28, 2 p.m. Received an order an 
hour or two ago to reopen the war which has been closed 
so often. I am to operate westward. General Worth must 
be greatly disappointed, having obtained his brevet rank 
on the public presumption (based on his reports) that the 
war was indeed finally and for the last time ended. " 

This sarcasm was a'mply justified by the circumstances. 
The Florida war dragged on through two decades, accompanied 
by false reports and the making and marring of reputations; 
in fact, at the end of the twenty years, when the most formi- 
dable chiefs had been for a long time dead, the Seminoles, 
like a favorite prima donna, continued to make " positively 
the last appearance. " 

While waiting for a boat to take him and his command to 

i68 Fifty Years in Camp and Field 

the field to find the chief Pascofa, Colonel Hitchcock dwelt 
much with the ancient and modem philosophers and filled 
no less than twenty-two pages of his diary, after receiving 
orders to move, with comments on Plotinus and Proclus, 
Daniel, William Miller, Lord Chatham, St. Paul, Mahomet, 
Jo Smith, and other alleged organizers and co-ordinators 
of human thought. 

Colonel Hitchcock left Fort Stansbury Dec. 9, 1842, to 
**end the Seminole War" once more. He carried with him 
Plotinus, and the four volumes of John Paul Richter's Hespe- 
rw5,— what other books the diary does not reveal. His plan 
was to make friendly advances, to invite the hostiles in, and 
induce them to vacate the country. To this end he sent 
forward scouts with amicable messages. The result seemed 
doubtful, for Colonel Davenport with the whole of the ist In- 
fantry, Captain Hutter, with a portion of the 6th Infantry, 
and Captain Bullock, with the dragoons, had recently operated 
against the hostiles from this point and had totally failed. 
The fugitive Creeks remained a menace to the settlers and 
eluded capture. Hitchcock records in his diary that he felt 
deeply the delicacy of his position. He knew that he could 
accomplish nothing with the use of a military force as such, 
for that method had failed again and again. At the same 
time he knew that if an attempt to reach and remove the 
Indians by a pacific invitation should fail it would seriously 
compromise his military reputation. To add to his embar- 
rassment, two companies of local volunteers, authorized by 
the Secretary of War, had been raised and officered, and the 
captains now reported for duty and asked to be mustered 
in. As he had resolved to make the expedition a test of 
peaceful methods he dismissed the captains and their com- 
panies, simply telling them he would send for them when 
needed. ^ 

He then detailed two companies from his own regiment, 

« When Colonel Hitchcock was making his preparations to head off 
Pascofa's band, again threatening the borders of Georgia, he received a rather 
discouraging letter from Capt. Joseph E. Johnston, Worth's Adjutant-Gen- 
eral, under date of Dec. 2, 1842, with the following advice: "General Worth 
Wishes your measures to be, at present, purely defensive, without attempts 
to find the Indians. " But Hitchcock felt that this was not at all what he 
had again been sent to Florida for, and he acted accordingly. 

Friendly Overtures to Chief Pascofa 169 

marched them to the Chattahoochee River, and there went 
on board of a little steamer and started down the Apalachicola 
in search of the hostiles. He had brought two *'friendlies*' 
and now told them that he was on a mission of peace. He 
directed them to go into the woods and advance and look 
about till they found an Indian — ^any Indian — ^and induce 
him to return with them to the steamer, at a place called 
Fort Preston, 1 under promise that he should not be detained 
a moment against his will: that the officer wished to talk 
with him, and if he did not like the talk he should be free to 
go at any time. They started out and were absent two days. 
At the end of that time Colonel Hitchcock's ears were saluted 
with a joyful whoop, which he knew was not an Indian yell. 
The friendlies came in bringing a shy and frightened Seminole 
He was not more than twenty and looked as if he had care- 
lessly and foolishly put himself into the white man's power. 

Hitchcock took him by the hand, reassured him, had food 
brought him, and gave him a seat by his side. He inquired 
of his young guest about his people and their chief, and finally 
ended the conference by feeding him again, and asking him 
to go into the swamp and find his chief, Pascofa, and ask him 
to come in and have a friendly talk, assuring him that he 
should be free to go at any time. The "powwow" at last 
succeeded. The Indian went out on his important mission 
and returned in two days, saying that Pascofa would come 
in two or three days more. 

The promise was kept. Three Indians^ came in during 
the next day and Pascofa arrived a day or two later. He 
was bold and walked straight into the white man's presence. 

Hitchcock took the chief outside the camp, and sat down 
on a log with him, accompanied only by the interpreter, 

» This has apparently now no place in Florida geography, though two 
towns on the Apalachicola are named after Hitchcock's chief guides, prob- 
ably, — Sampson and Ochesee, — ^and the bank of the Ocklocknee where 
Pascofa's band at last embarked is, or was, locally known as Hitchcock's 

» "The three Indians who came in to-day are young and likely-looking 
fellows. I had coffee for them and left them breakfasting or dining, as the 
case may have been. After they had eaten as much as would satisfy six 
men they stopped. Somebody asked if they had eaten enough. *Yes, 
said the negro Sampson, 'but dey begin again soon. * Indians never fully 
satisfy themselves while anything remains to be eaten." 

I70 Fifty Years in Camp and Field 

and they had a long friendly talk. Pascofa was made to 
understand that his band had become isolated and could 
never have a day's peace while it remained in the country. 
His mind was also disabused concerning the land destined 
for his tribe. Hitchcock used no duress nor a threatening 
word. Pascofa became perfectly calm and mild and ended 
by saying that he would go if his people would agree to it. 
He would consult them and come in next day with ten war- 
riors, with certain specified ceremonies. He then returned 
to the swamp after shaking hands and eating something. 

The next day Pascofa was descried outside the camp 
with ten others with quills in their hair and armed with rifles. 
These they discharged among the trees, as an assurance that 
their purpose was peaceful. They came in singing. *'I met 
them in the centre of the camp at the head of my officers, 
and we shook hands and exchanged 'talk' — ^rejoicing that 
peace was now made. " 

Hitchcock then invited all the Indians out into the woods, 
where he sat down with them and talked, with the assistance 
of the interpreter. All went well. The Indians expressed 
pleasure at their treatment and the friendly disposition of 
their white entertainer. Presents were given to them. They 
soon shook hands all around, had a smoke together, and the 
Indians left camp, agreeing to return in three days with their 
people. 1 

** Pascofa told me this morning that he was so happy at 
the prospect of peace that he could not express himself. 
'Been rained on for years, ' he said, 'but the sun is now shin- 
ing. ' He says they are all destitute. Three of his people 
out hunting: must wait till they come in, and then he will 
go from the country. . . . His warriors are wretchedly 
dressed, mostly in skins, with very dirty tattered shirts. One 
or two had bits of blankets about them. They generally 
hunt with bow and arrow. " 

« The diarist records: "Much anxiety as to whether the Indians will keep 
their contract. Pascofa has received the consideration in liquor, for he 
sent in a doe-skin entire, which I filled with liquor at his request. If he 
fails to perform his part of the agreement I shall feel at liberty to take posses- 
sion of him, if he gives me a chance, and compel him to sent a runner for his 
people. The camp is full of speculation. If I am compelled to seize Pascofa 
he shall never touch ground again short of Arkansas. " 

**War Again Ended" 171 

Christmas Day of 1842 was very qiiiet in the camp on 
the Apalachicola. The three days passed and the pledge 
had not been kept. On Dec. 29th several ** braves" came 
in and reported that the families were slowly approaching. 
Hitchcock invited them on board of the boat as they arrived, 
to make passage to the mouth of the river. This they declined, 
saying frankly that they had committed such depredations 
along the river that their lives would not be safe; but if the 
Colonel would furnish them with some provisions and take 
the steamer around to OcMocknee Bay, some thirty or forty 
miles, they would all make their way through the swamps 
and meet him there. To this he consented, but consented 
very reluctantly, fearing that it was a ruse to get rid of him, 
and started down the river without them, accompanied only 
by a guard of twenty men. His two companies were sent 
back to Fort Stansbury. 

At Apalachicola the quartermaster bought **some calico, 
ribbons, needles and thread, and a few knicknacks for pres- 
ents when we shall meet again," and the steamer proceeded 
to the Gulf of Mexico and went around to the rendezvous, 
the mouth of the Ocklocknee, arriving two days later, New 
Year's Day. Not an Indian was in sight. 

Great anxiety prevailed for days lest the Indians might 
not keep their agreement to come out to the coast. Canoes 
were sighted along the shore and river. On Jan. 8th Hitch- 
cock turned the steamboat's prow up the Ocklocknee. At 
that time no white man had ever attempted to settle on this 
river or bay, and the character of the region was unknown. 
The boat might be going into an ambuscade. Days passed, 
and no Indians. A row-boat was one morning sent up the 
river and returned in the afternoon with an Indian. It proved 
to be Pascofa himself. **He stepped on board," says the 
diarist, ''with every appearance of having kept good faith, 
and apologized for the delay, which he attributed to the slow 
movement of families, and to the fact that his canoe, hidden 
in a creek, had become imbedded in the sand and had to be 
dug out in a damaged condition." Soon the people all ar- 
rived, and Pascofa said as they were quitting Florida forever 
they must have a good-bye dance on the river bank. 

"I went with him to his camp — a strange and memorable 

172 Fifty Years in Camp and Field 

scene. A few fires in the thick woods with some fifty Indians 
around them. They had a dance, in which my officers joined. 
Pascofa looked on as chief and insisted on my sitting by his 
side. He constantly talked of his happiness that peace had 
come and frequently spoke of me as having ended the war. 
They are badly dressed, the blankets I have given them just 
covering their nakedness, and seem haggard and poor. Lieu- 
tenant Henry has issued a blanket to each and a shirt and 
turban to each man and a calico dress and handkerchief to 
each woman, food, &c." 

The next day they were all on board the boat William 
Gaston, and dropped down to the mouth of the river. A 
letter came from General Worth congratulating Hitchcock on 
the success of his expedition. It had been assumed that these 
Indians would never be caught alive and that hostilities 
would be commenced. Great was the joy of Fort Stansbury. 
The Indians named Hitchcock, their peaceful captor, Pa-ga- 
chu-lee — ''the Controlling Spirit.* 

"I have succeeded quite beyond my hopes. Gen. Worth 
says I have saved the government $50,000, and when he heard 
of my success he exclaimed in his joy, *I '11 jump overboard!' 

An army officer tells me that he exclaimed, *By ! He 

has done it. ' . . . On nearing the wharf and seeing the 
people, the Indians had a revulsion of emotion and seemed 
to feel that they were now indeed in our power. The men 
became perfectly silent and serious — sad — ^while the women 
were nearly all in tears. I took occasion to speak to them, 
telling them not to lose heart, as they were coming among 
friends who would take care of them ; that I was glad to see 
that they had tender hearts, but they would be treated well. 
The chief, Pascofa, himself was so much affected that his lips 
trembled and he could not say a word. A woman stood near 
with a little child in her arms, and I told her that they had 
been living more like wild animals than like human creatures, 
and she could now bring up her children in peace and safety. 
At this she dropped her head and burst into tears. There 
is a story current that at one period the members of this band 
put their children to death to avoid the chance of their expos- 
ing the hiding-places by their cries, and also to make flight 
easier. It is remarked that there is no child among them 

Thanks of Governor and Legislature 173 

from four years old to about fourteen. This seems almost 
a confirmation of the story of terrible necessity to which 
they were reduced. But now the Indian War is finished — 
ended — closed for the last time. The Indians have been 
talked out of Florida. 

"By a little show of kindness, which is very easy to show 
when it is felt, I have won Pascofa's heart as I did Coocoo- 
chee's two years ago. When Coocoochee, in presence of 
Worth, put his hand on my shoulder and called me his brother, 
the Colonel smiled it off gracefully, but he was annoyed and 
wished me to the devil. " 

Colonel Hitchcock now turned the command over to junior 
officers who conducted the party to Arkansas. The Apalachi- 
cola Journal congratulated the settlers that their dangerous 
foe had been disposed of *4n the incredibly short time of 
three weeks" and Governor Call issued a message to the 
Senate and House of Representatives which was as follows: 

Tallahassee, 13 January, 1843. 

I have the satisfaction to announce that I have just received a 
letter from Lieut. Col. Hitchcock of the United States Army, 
communicating the gratifying intelligence of the complete success 
of his late expedition against the fugitive Creek Indians. After 
encountering difficulties and delays which could only have been 
overcome by the energy and perseverance of that gallant officer, 
on the morning of the loth inst. the entire number of that savage 
band, which has so long harassed our frontier settlements, was in- 
duced to embark on the Ocklocknee, on board the steamboat which 
has already transported them to Cedar Keys, whence, it is believed, 
they will be immediately shipped to Arkansas. 

The result of this enterprise will be a memorable event in the 
history of the Seminole War. ^It has been attended with more 
complete and signal success than any other expedition conducted 
against the savage enemy. All apprehension of danger is now 
removed — not an Indian remains. The last war-whoop has been 
heard on our southwestern border and peace and security are per- 
manently restored in that quarter. 

Governor Call closed by recommending the passage of a 

» "I feel it my duty to convey to the General the high sense I entertain 
of the zeal and singleness of purpose to accomplish the object, which have 
actuated both the officers and men of this expedition."^ — Official report 
of Hitchcock. 

174 Fifty Years in Camp and Field 

resolution of thanks to Colonel Hitchcock, and the recom- 
mendation was at once acted upon. ^ 

Colonel Hitchcock now attended a court-martial at Palatka 
and wrote the finding of the court. Left on Feb. 5th for western 
Florida again — v-ia St. Augustine and St. Mary*s to Savannah 
by boat, and thence by railroad towards Macon. 

"The only passenger on the train. Have the entire steam 
apparatus to myself. The covmtry wears a desolate aspect. 
Such white men! What right have they to own negroes? 
The Bey of Tunis, 'tis said, has liberated all the slaves in 
his dominions. How long can slavery remain an institution 
of this country?'* 

After 152 miles of rail and then fourteen hours in a wagon, 
he arrived at Macon and called on the mayor. "Ostensibly 
to pay my respects. " From Macon to Tallahassee in a wagon. 
Reached Fort Stansbury, his headquarters, on Feb. i6th. Or- 
ders were received to concentrate the regiment there, and this 
was at once done, "four companies in log huts and six in 

On March 7th and 8th Governor Call gave a party and a 
dinner '* in honor of Colonel Hitchcock and his gallant officers. " 
Several hundreds attended. The Governor's toast at dinner 
was * ' Beauty and Chivalry —the pride and glory of our coun- 

» In 1866 General Hitchcock looked over this record in his diary and added 
these reminiscences and explanations: "I never did believe in Harney's 
method of dealing with the Indians — to hang them wherever they were 
found — but in friendly overtures. It was on my recommendation that Worth 
was appointed to succeed Armistead, to put my policy into practice. I 
wrote the order. Worth, however, was not true to the principles he had 
approved of. He so conducted himself as to forfeit the confidence of the 
Indians before he tried the amicable method. His expedition cost a great 
deal of money and resulted in nothing. After a while he succeeded in 
seizing some Indians he himself had invited within his guards and they were 
sent out of Florida, whereupon ' the end of the war ' was proclaimed and, 
through the influence of Scott, Worth was brevetted a Brigadier-General. 
When another outbreak occurred in western Florida, the Secretary of War 
ordered Worth to punish the Indians by a military expedition. Worth sent 
the order to me and told me to go ahead in my own way. I did not hesitate. 
I dispensed with two companies of volunteers and took two from my own 
regiment, thus saving a large amoimt of money. I succeeded in getting the 
Indians into my confidence and my camp, and by friendly talk alone induced 
them to do as I desired. Worth never acknowledged my services. Scott 
ultimately recognized and did all in his power to honor me and prove his 
fidelity to me. " 

Thanks of Governor and Legislature 175 

try/' Hitchcock responded with "Beauty— its defence and 
protection the noble privilege of Chivalry, whether with or 
without the button,*' — ^thus including citizens among the 

On March 15th General Worth arrived and reviewed the 
3d Infantry. Colonel Hitchcock records: **The regiment 
to-day manoeuvred admirably. I am certain Worth has not 
seen movements better executed these many years — not even 
in his own regiment. " 

''Last evening I attended meeting and heard a Mr. Some- 
body tell us 'Now 's the time!' and he seemed to make it 
clear that God was standing by waiting with the utmost con- 
cern and anxiety to have us all take the chance, as we might 
never get another. What blasphemies these people uncon- 
sciously utter!" 

Orders came from Washington on March 20th to transfer 
the regiment to Jefferson Barracks, ten miles south of St. 
Louis. Before leaving, the regiment gave a largely attended 
banquet and dance to Governor Call and his friends at Talla- 

On April 4 (1843), Hitchcock left Fort Stansbury with 
his regiment and embarked for Jefferson Barracks, Missouri. 
Reached New Orleans ten days thereafter, 1 and Jefferson 
Barracks on April 2 2d. 

1 The New Orleans Picayune joyously heralded the arrival at that city 
and added: "With infinite skill, perseverance, and good management the 
efforts of Lieutenant Colonel Ethan Allen Hitchcock were crowned with 
success in the short space of three weeks. The credit the gallant Colonel 
gained in this must be considered very flattering, as it was understood that 
Pascofa's band had sworn they would never come in. " 



DURING his final successful effort to close the Florida 
War Colonel Hitchcock was a party to a strange and 
pathetic episode. One morning he was surprised to re- 
ceive a note from the Governor of Florida informing him that 
the settlers along the Apalachicola had encountered a wander- 
ing Indian woman who had been in their neighborhood for 
months, and refused to give any account of herself, and asking 
him to send troops to see if there was not a band of Indians 
still concealed thereabouts. Colonel Hitchcock believed the last 
suggestion entirely unfounded, but he sent an intelligent of- 
ficer with one man and a led horse to bring in the wanderer. 
The diarist continues the curious story as follows: 

"The officer returned with the woman in the course of a 
week, the distance going and coming being about i8o miles. 
He reported that he, also, had been unable to extract a word 
from the woman that could be understood. He found her 
surrounded by frightened white settlers who called her * Polly.* 
In their alarm they had put a rope around the neck of the 
poor creature, and threatened to hang her if she did not give 
some account of herself. All that the woman did in response 
to the threats was to burst into tears and cry incessantly. 
In her clothes were found two or three curious papers. One, 
dated 'Jefferson C'ty, Mo.*, was signed by one Wilcox, who 
stated that the woman called Polly appeared to be of the 
Choctaw tribe and that she seemed to be harmless and that 
he recommended her to the kind assistance of everybody, 


Helpless Wanderer in the Mississippi Valley 177 

that she might be helped to reach her tribe. Another, dated 
at Yazoo City, Miss., stated that the woman was unknown, but 
apparently honest, and the writer commended her to the 
kindness of all who should meet her.^ 

*'As there was in Upper Florida a Monticello, in Jefferson 
County, the *Mo. ' in the first paper was thought to stand for 
that town and the abbreviation *C'ty* for * county. ' The 
people of that place were inquired of, but none of them ever 
heard of the lost woman. 

''She was thirty-five or forty years old, and was dressed 
in a plain calico gown, quite unlike the wild Indians of Florida, 
and when not spoken to she was perfectly quiet and seemed 
not to notice anybody or anything. Feeling that it was neces- 
sary to locate her where she belonged, I sent several miles 
and got a skilful interpreter, acquainted with all the Southern 
Indian languages. He spent some time questioning her, 
but, after doing his best, he declared to me that he did not 
know what she was saying and could make nothing of her. 
I was astonished and nonplussed, and reported her case to 
General Worth. He declined to give any orders, and left it 

» Here are literal copies of some of the papers : 

"Yazoo Valley, Nov. 6, 1842 — as all men Danote under stain the Lan- 
guage of an Indians I take the Libty of informing all men whar the indian 
Polly wants to go she is on her way to the chocktaw nation. She has good 
papers but is afraid to sho them to ever Boddy. poUy cant speak Inglish 
a tall." 

"Poor lost Indian. Polly, she has good recommendation to be honest 
and offensive, and wants to get to Mississippi give the poor thing some- 
thing to eat god will reward you. " 

"The Bear of this is a very civil Choctaw woman named Polly. She 
is on her way to her people. Please be kind and point out the road & assist 
her on her way. She is honest. Please feed her on her way. " 

"This is said to be a Seminole woman lost from her own people. She 
is inefencive she is a poor human being. She seems to be in trouble. I do 
not know where Polly wants to go. Hav compassion on him god will re- 
ward you. " 

"This old woman wants to go to the Choctaw tribe will all be kind enough 
to point out the road and give her something to eat. Let us have compassion 
on the poor Indians. God will reward us. " 

This last certificate was thus endorsed: "This old lady is not of the 
Chocktaw tribe for I speak the Chocktaw language and she cannot under- 
stand me. — "M. M. Hancock." 

178 Fifty Years in Camp and Field 

to me. We fixed her up a place to sleep and gave her rations 
— the only help I could think of. 

**One day it occurred to me I would try some experiments 
with her, and I sent for her. When she was brought to my 
quarters I pointed to the fire and asked her, by gestures, 
what she called that. She answered distinctly 'Scota. * Now 
I had been so long on duty among the Northwestern Indians 
that I had learned something of the Chippewa language and 
at once recognized her 'scota* as the Chippewa word for *fire. ' 
I tried her on several other familiar things and recognized 
several other names as being Chippewa. I took a sheet of 
paper and began writing out the words, the woman's face 
brightening up at once and showing by every sign that she 
perfectly understood what was going on.i 

"After thus writing a dozen or more Chippewa words 
I sent to the kitchen for a piece of bread, and asked her what 
it was. She called it 'quash-con.' Here was a deviation. 
The Chippewa for bread is ' po-quash-e-kun. ' It flashed across 
my mind that the woman was not pure Chippewa, but, as 
dialects of the Chippewa are spoken by nearly all the Northwest 
Indians, including the Crees, the Assineboins beyond the 
tribe, and the Sacs and Foxes, Winnebagoes, Menomenees, 
and Pottawatomies south of the tribe, I concluded (in spite 
of the great difficulties which it suggested) that the woman 
must belong to the Pottawatomies, who had made some pro- 
gress in civilization on the shores of Lake Michigan before 
emigrating further west. 

"So certain had I become of this that, a few months later, 
when I was ordered to Jefferson Barracks, Mo., I took the 

> In the diary are recorded the following words which Hitchcock took 
down from her lips, according to their phonetic sound. But as he made no 
pretence to being an ethnologist, as he had never studied Chippewa, and as 
he made this record with no expectation it would ever be printed, it is not 
to be supposed that these words agree literally with a scientific vocabulary : 









red blanket 






















Hitchcock's Catechism Saves the Derelict 179 

lost woman with the regiment. But, all the way, I kept 
asking myself, *If this poor castaway belongs to the Potta- 
watomie tribe, how on earth came she in the woods of Florida ? ' 

**0n reaching our destination near St. Louis I explained 
the strange case to Mr. Pierre Chouteau, a famous Indian 
fur-trader and son of the founder of St. Louis, and he agreed 
to send her in one of his trading-boats a thousand miles up 
the Missouri, to where the Pottawatomie tribe had settled 
years before, he promising to bring her back if the guess 
was wrong. 

"It proved to be right! On the return of the expedition 
a few months later, I was rejoiced to hear that the poor 
wanderer had rejoined her friends and that, in fact, she was 
a sister of Wabunsa, one of the chiefs of the tribe. 

''The story brought back was that, while a party of the 
Pottawatomies were emigrating westward through Missouri, 
this woman was missed one morning after a march of several 
miles. Two young men were sent back in search of her, but 
she had wandered off the road and was given up as lost. 
After leaving the trail she must have wandered in the direction, 
of Jefferson City, where she met the humane Mr. Wilcox, 
on whose recommendation some equally kind river captain, 
supposing her to belong to the Choctaw tribe, had givea 
her passage down the river to Yazoo, as the nearest point to 
what had been the Choctaw country. From there she must 
have strayed^ — the Lord knows how — several himdred miles 
east and south, until she was captured in the Florida wilder- 
ness and threatened with instant death as belonging to a 
dangerous band of marauding Indians on the Apalachicola 1 
I have often gratefully thought that, if I had not happened 
to know a few Chippewa words, she might have wandered 
on and on, a harmless derelict, till she died of grief and star- 
vation or became a victim to some party of enraged and 
ignorant settlers." 



THE next diary, of a hundred compactly written pages 
(from April 4 to Jtdy 9, 1843), is wholly occupied with 
a chronicle of tineventful pleasant days in St. Louis, 
of military amenities, social diversions, philosophical reflec- 
tions, and personal reminiscences. 

*'Jeff. Bks., Sept. 26. Yesterday I called on Napoleon 
Bonaparte's aide de camp — ^the famous Marshal Bert rand — 
at the Planters. ' Colonel Benton was master of ceremonies. 
To-day they came down to our camp, and the old gentleman 
seemed highly gratified. He is about 70 years old, rather 
short, about five feet six inches, well built and inclined to 
stoutness — not a lean, dried-up Frenchman. Clear eye, firm 
step, speaks some English, is polite in French style, cordial, 
kisses the ladies' hands, and regrets that he cannot tarry. Is 
on his way to see General Jackson, Mr. Clay and Niagara. "^ 

A captain was court-martial led and dismissed the service 
about this time and Hitchcock thus makes record : 

"This is the last of a set of men who were all drunkards. 
We have not now a regular drinker left in the 3rd Infantry 
and but few who touch liquor at all. Within the last two 
or three weeks we have had temperance addresses and nearly 
400 men have signed the pledge, including several officers." 

> Bertrand died the next year and was biiried by the side of his illustrious 
chief, whom he served from Austerlitz to St. Helena. 


Advice to a Young Lieutenant i8i 

This anxiety for the welfare of his men seems to have 
been constantly felt. Few commanders were ever so solici- 
tous for the morale of the regiment. During this year a 
lieutenant requested a pass for a lady to go on the boat when 
the regiment should move. As the Colonel knew of the 
lady's reputation the request was refused, and the refusal 
was accompanied by a most kindly letter of seven pages. 
The following is an extract : 

"I approach this subject with the utmost reluctance, and 
would infinitely prefer knowing nothing about it. I say this 
both on account of its nature and on your own account whom I 
have had so many reasons to admire and to serve whom there is 
nothing in reason I would not do. Believe me, my young friend, 
I am too well acquainted with the force of human passion not 
to make every allowance which the utmost toleration can require 
consistent with the paramount public duty imposed upon me 
by my station. Nor do I claim the right to interfere with any 
officer's private concerns as such, so long as they truly are private : 
but when they cease to be private and occupy a large share of 
public report, and assume a form that threatens to affect the 
welfare of the regiment, I cannot look idly on, 

After informing him that it was an affront to the ladies of 
the garrison that the lady in question was present at the regi- 
ment's ball, and if they had known of her presence they would 
have stayed away, an alternative that ought not to be presented 
to them, the Colonel added: 

" In order to see the enormity of the evil of which I complain 
it is only necessary to consider what the effect would be if every 
officer claimed and exercised the right of following your 
example. What would be the character of a regiment living 
in such a state ? Would not the moral sense of the country cry 
out against it? Would not Congress abolish a corps known gener- 
ally to live in such habits? What each one is not at liberty to do 
no one can do with propriety. It is my duty to attempt to ar- 
rest a habit which if generally followed would destroy the regiment. 
While I give you this warning in private I avail myself of the 
occasion to say that as an individual you have lost nothing in my 
estimation. I look upon you as among the most promising officers 
of the regiment, endowed with superior talents and capabilities. 
The unfortunate connection you have formed has not as yet seri- 
ously impaired these qualifications; but, as one much your senior 

1 82 Fifty Years in Camp and Field 

in years who has been accustomed all his life to watch closely the 
influence of habits upon character, I say, in all frankness, that the 
continuance of the connection and the continuance of an elevated 
character are incompatible with each other and absolutely im- 
possible. This is a law of life from which there is no appeal, and 
I implore you to pause before it be too late and break at once a 
connection which the longer it continues the more difficult it will 
be to sever. I am not so many years distant from your age as 
not to be fully aware of all you can possibly urge in defence ; and 
I trust you will not think it worth while to make any answer 
whatever to this note. I do not write it to invite an argument 
which your passions or your pride may set up: I write it for a 
far higher object — first, as a duty to the regiment, second, as a 
friend of yourself. Do not hastily reject the counsel of one whose 
experience may be a better guide than your passions and who can 
have no earthly interest in advising you but for your own good. 
If you choose to break this connection it shall appear to be your 
own movement, and, whatever you may think of it now, rely 
upon it the day will come when you will consider it the deliverance 
from a bondage more to be dreaded than any other that can afflict 
humanity — this chiefly becauce it corrupts the very core of life, 
'hardens all within and petrifies the feeling."* 

The summer and autumn of 1843 passed quietly ("sleepily" 
says the annalist) at Jefferson Barracks, and in the hundred- 
page diary between July and January the writer record's his 
reflections on mesmerism and the Absolute, on Proclus, 
Lucian, Algernon Sidney, Shaftesbury, Sir William Temple, 
Emerson, Swift, and the Epicurean philosophers. But this 
book is a biography and not a compendium of philosophy. 
The diarist sometimes considers the value of his speculations : 

"I often have an impulse to write, write, write in my 
note-book, but I let the new and bright thoughts pass unre- 
corded. I often have vivid impressions of truth which I 
think important, but am separated from my book and make 
no note. The human race will doubtless be greatly the loser ! " 

He is much interested in new improvements : 

"I read a long letter to-day on the subject of a ship-canal 
to connect the Atlantic and Pacific oceans, in Central America, 
the author not seeming to be aware that the thing is now 
actually in progress under the most promising auspices. " 

During the summer of 1843, a conflict occurred at Jefferson 

The Findings in the Buell Court-Martial 183 

Barracks between an officer and a private soldier of the 3rd 
Infantry which resulted in a court-martial and magnified 
the differences between General Scott and Colonel Hitchcock. 
Lieutenant Don Carlos Buell ^ was arrested and tried for 
striking a soldier of his company with his sword, and was 
honorably acquitted on the ground that the blows given were 
not greater than necessary for self-defence. 

When the findings were published, General Scott ordered 
that the court be revived and required to explain why it had 
not found Buell guilty. The members of the court sent to 
Washington a protest (which Colonel Hitchcock wrote) and 
refused to obey the order and declined either to revise or ex- 
plain their verdict, on the ground that ''the Rules and Articles 
of War nowhere give authority to any officer to demand from a 
court-martial reasons for its decisions, much less to dictate 
what its decisions 'must be* in any case." General Gaines 
remonstrated against this protest and declared that "the mem- 
bers of the court turn upon the General with as little apparent 
courtesy as if he were an offender put on his trial before this 
sensitive tribunal. " 

General Scott resented the finding and appealed to the 
President to compel its reversal. The Secretary of War 
(Porter) ordered a reorganization of the court, and added, 
**If courts-martial will not do their duty in finding officers 
guilty when proved to be so, the discipline of the army must 
be vindicated by the exercise of the summary power with 
which the President is invested to strike offenders from the 

Instead of being compliant the court became more defiant. 
It charged the government with an attempt to intimidate, 
and refused to reconsider the case, giving the reasons in another 
document, drawn up by Colonel Hitchcock. 

General Scott, who had been alluded to in the letter to the 
President as "some subordinate authority," was in a fine 
rage. He began his "remarks on the protest" as follows: 
"It is generally understood, at Jefferson Barracks, that this 
protest was drawn up by an officer of the 3rd Infantry (not 
a member of the court) in concert with a certain General, 
to stimulate disobedience, and in the name of the court to 

» Made a major-general during the War for the Union. 

1 84 Fifty Years in Camp and Field 

revenge themselves on the tindersigned." He alluded to Col- 
onel Hitchcock only as *Hhe penman," and expressed great 
indignation at the miscarriage of justice. But the President 
decreed, ''Let all proceedings against Lieut. Buell cease." 

The winter of 1843-4 passed at Jefferson Barracks almost 
as quietly as the summer had done: parades, reviews, dances, 
eating, sleeping, reading, now and then a court-martial. At 
the latter, though inferior in rank. Colonel Hitchcock was 
always called on to write the finding of the court, and to defend 
it when it was attacked. He visited Fort Jesup, Louisiana, 
in the spring, whence, having obtained a copy of Simmons 
on Practice, he issued a fearless and almost insubordinate 
protest of his own and sent it to President Tyler, closing the 
controversy on the Buell case. 

It is dated "Camp Wilkins, near Fort Jesup, La., June 
20, 1844," and breathes the same spirit of respectful defiance 
and arraignment as do all of his remonstrances against the 
orders of his superiors which he deemed unjust. He says: 
* ' I have now to state that the extract [from Simmons] furnished 
by the late Secretary of War, to sustain the opinions he ex- 
pressed, is garbled and has the effect of a fraud; and if the 
omission of the material portion of that passage was know- 
ingly and designedly made, I charge that the Secretary of 
War was guilty of fraud." He then proves it by quotation 
and adds: "It is very remarkable that a doctrine so pre- 
cisely stated and illustrated, with the evident purpose of 
preventing misapprehension, should have escaped the notice 
of the Major-General commanding the army," Scott, and 
that he should have endorsed "the erroneous doctrine appar- 
ently so fraudulently sustained by his garbled extract." 
Here was another ample cause of irritation between Scott 
and the author of these troublesome protests. After fur- 
nishing it Colonel Hitchcock went back to Missouri and his 

As usual he spent much of his time in his library, constantly 
increasing it and moving many books every time he went 
on any journey. 

"My box of books has come — ^near $200 worth, including 
Behman, Cudworth, Napier, Niebuhr's Rome, Scaliger, Jeremy 
Bentham, Strauss, and the Bhagavat Gita.** 

General Taylor Assumes Command 185 

Besides these he perused and pondered on Beaumont and 
Fletcher, Bacon, Macaulay, Menzel, various discourses on On- 
tology, and De Witt's Introduction to the Old Testament. And 
he made ample record of his thoughts in his diary. 

"Jefferson Barracks, Missouri, April 20, 1844, 11 p.m. 
Great excitement to-day. As I returned to garrison after 
retreat, I was met by Captain Lamard and saluted with the 
news that my regiment is ordered to Fort Jesup, Louisiana. 
Quite unexpected. Rumors are rife of the annexation of 
Texas, and this may be a movement towards making a military 
occupancy of the country beyond the Sabine. I may make 
the first move into Texas with the colors of the United States, 
but I am convinced I shall not make the last." 

Hasty measures of preparation were taken; books were 
(largely) stored; property not needed was hurriedly sold; 
farewell dinners were given and calls of courtesy were made; 
an impromptu dance was had ; some tears were shed by sweet- 
hearts and acquaintances and — 

"Sunday, 28th Apr. Farewell books — study — etc. Good- 
bye Plato, and all the rest! We are on board the 1400 -ton 
steamboat Maria, and leaving behind us the lowering clouds 
of yesterday." 

On May 3rd the expedition arrived at the mouth of the 
Red River, and next day was transferred to the steamer 
Beeswing and proceeded up the river "to Nackitosh." Two 
days later arrived at Grand Cove, a few miles above "Nacki- 
tosh," and moved through the woods with teams twenty- 
five miles southwest to Fort Jesup, within twenty miles of 
the Texas frontier. General Twiggs and the 2nd Dragoons 
were already there in camp. Colonel Hitchcock had been 
stationed there under Gaines, nine years before. 

"i8th June, 1844. General Taylor arrived yesterday and 
assumed command of this military department, and immedi- 
ately requested my aid, and I drew up for him his instructions to 
the 'confidentiar officers sent to President Houston of Texas. " 

"Camp Wilkins (close by Jesup), July 7. Among the 
books last received from my bookseller is a translation of 
Tennemann's Manual of the History of Philosophy, 8 volumes, 
which I have read with great pleasure; also the remainder 
of my brother Samuel's translation of Spinoza's Ethics/' 

1 86 Fifty Years in Camp and Field 

Hitchcock hears that he has been nominated for pro- 
motion to be colonel by brevet. Speculates about it. "Am 
sure that General Scott has not of his own motion done me jus- 
tice to send up my name. The President must have ordered 
the brevet. " And the same day he goes into an abstruse dis- 
cussion of the Absolute, of the Eihica of the " God -intoxicated *' 
Spinoza, and of the Parmenides of Plato. He was also * 'read- 
ing Walter Scott's novels again between evolutions." 

"Jesup, 31st Aug. To-day General Taylor will inspect 
my regiment." 

The announcement evidently does not worry the diarist, 
for he goes on to make voluminous metaphysical entries in 
the diary on the same day. 

He does not take the trouble even to tell us how the regi- 
ment acquitted itself. 

During September (1844), while living an inactive life 
at Fort Jesup, Hitchcock read Gabriel Rossetti's works on 
the esoteric meaning of the Middle Age writers, and got the 
first glimpse of that new and mystical interpretation of cele- 
brated authors which later so characterized his own writings. 
He imagines that Cervantes, in creating Don Quixote and 
ridiculing the extravagant romances of chivalry, may have 
been outside of the secret sect and so have misunderstood 
the books which were only ostensibly romances; and he con- 
jectures that Amadis de Gaul and the mythical heroes who 
succeeded him may merely have been types and symbols of 
Wisdom and Truth. So he reads and speculates, spending 
the quiet autumnal weeks mostly with his books. 

"Most educated men in this age of the world appear to 
have no faith at all. The old foundations have been broken 
up, and, because a moral impression has been created that 
the faith of the ignorant must not be disturbed, the educated 
are abandoned to chance — ^to the guidance of their passions — 
and the most of these lead miserable lives, doubting and 
almost hating a faith which they dare not say a word about. 
They fear to be classed with the bespattered names of Toland, 
Tindall, and Chubb, yet these men were leaders in a greater 
reform than that of Luther and Calvin. I note that Locke was 
bom 1632; Tindall, 1657; Collins, 1669; Toland, 1676; Chubb, 
1679 — all within half a century, and all so-called infidels. " 

General Taylor Assumes Command 187 

It is needless to say that a man who dwelt with such 
thought-compelling themes could find little real companion- 
ship among the careless officers of a regiment on a wild and 
bookless frontier. But he had one delightful associate — • 
Major Bliss, afterwards son-in-law of General Taylor and his 
chief -of-staff. They were much together, and Captain Lamard 
made up a trio. 

"Fort Jesup, 12th October (1844). Day before yester- 
day General Taylor received an extraordinary letter of instruc- 
tions from the Adjutant General's office, marked 'confidential.' 
He has shown it to me. The purport of it is that President 
Tyler directs General Taylor to hold his command *in readi- 
ness to move at short notice' to any point in the United 
States or in Texas which may be indicated by the United States 
charge d'affaires residing near the government of Texas. The 
alleged ground of this order is that Secretary of State Cal- 
houn has received information that 'the Mexican government 
or some of its citizens ' are inciting Indians in the southwest 
to murder and plunder the people of Texas or those of the 
United States, and that the U. S. are bound by treaty to 
prevent such outrages. The order, it is true, says that further 
instructions will be sent from general head-quarters before 
General T. is to move. But it is evident that President Tyler 
or his adviser, Mr. Calhoun, is determined to embroil this 
country before going out of office and perhaps, as Colonel 
Benton has charge on the floor of the Senate, to prepare the 
way for a separation of the Union. 

"These instructions are infamous. The charge spoken of 
is the newly appointed Andrew Jackson Donelson, just from 
under the influence of General Jackson at the Hermitage. 
When Jackson himself on the very same pretext (the Indians) 
ordered General Gaines to this frontier, he had the decency to 
send him a copy of the treaty of 181 9, and gave him the dis- 
cretion to move or not move as might seem necessary. . . . 
Even General Gaines, when the reckless Jackson was Presi- 
dent, was not expected to advance into Texas, and when he 
did proceed as far as Nacogdoches the only defence ever set 
up for it was that we might be said to have a claim that the 
Nueces River was the boundary." 

"15th Oct. Preparations going on for the march. But 

1 88 Fifty Years in Camp and Field 

I am hutting the regiment for cold weather, notwithstanding, 
for we may possibly remain here all winter.'* 

The huts were built. The regiment remained with General 
Taylor's command at Fort Jesup during the winter months, 
and these were occupied by Hitchcock mostly with his books. 
Study was the vocation of his life; the practice of the military 
profession was only an avocation. Yet so conscientious, en- 
ergetic, and skilful was he in the pursuit of this official pas- 
time, that he commanded the best drilled and best disciplined 
regiment in the army. While not a martinet in severity 
he was a strict disciplinarian and always inculcated habits 
of promptness, punctuality, neatness, and order. In his own 
quarters he set a constant example of punctilious politeness, 
of habitual cheerfulness, and of methodical attention to details 
that must have had an important influence on the whole 

His indefatigable research into all parts of the vast realm 
of knowledge more and more confirmed him in the principles 
of necessarianism : in the belief that all things occur in 
accordance with infallible and unchangeable law, and that 
all action, including human conduct, is the result of causes, 
sometimes obvious and sometimes recondite, but always 
quite beyond the reach of the human will. 

"As I woke this morning thinking, it occurred to me that 
a pretty good treatise might be made in the effort to show 
that all who for a single instant lose sight of the permanent 
laws of nature and suppose themselves free agents do, in fact, 
dethrone God and are practical atheists. The notion of 
freedom is the precise source of all evil and the cause of all 
the misery and suffering among men. The 'Kingdom of 
God' would 'come on earth' if men were penetrated with a 
sense of the law pervading all things by which the individual 
should be merged in the whole; and in this point of view the 
writer might consider himself a Christian as have many 
writers who have opposed the popular faith. ... So far 
from supposing the will free, our acting on it by a penalty 
supposes the contrary; that it is not free, but may be affected 
or restrained by the appHcation of a suitable cause. . . . 
Time has only confirmed my early opinions on the side of 
necessity — taken up chiefly from my own reflections, as far 

Dissolution of Union Predicted 189 

back as 181 7. . . . I find my delight and my support in 
the doctrine of necessity, which I see underlies all truth 
whatsoever. Spinoza and Hobbes stand pre-eminent as ne- 
cessarians among the extraordinary thinkers of the world, 
and I suppose that in this matter either one of these men 
saw more clearly than the whole world beside.'* 

"23rd Oct. Every now and then the spirit presses upon 
me to write out plainly and clearly all I think upon the subject 
of God and Christ and Nature and Man — not for publication or 
to affect others, but simply for the discharge of my own mind. ' * 

**2nd Nov. Ordered many more books to-day — Pantheis- 
ticon, Strauss's Dogmatique, Plutarch's Isis and Osiris, and 
twelve volumes of old plays. . . . True virtue sets a man 
above the hope of heaven and the fear of hell. " 

"Jesup, Nov. 28. I rarely note a word of politics, because 
I am not mixed up in them, exercise no influence upon them, 
and am but little affected by them. . . . We have certain 
intelHgence that J. K. Polk is elected President over Henry 
Clay. ... I look upon this as a step towards the annexa- 
tion of Texas first, and then, in due time, the separation of the 

This will strike the reader as a singular prediction, con- 
sidering that it was made with great positiveness seventeen 
years before the outbreak of the Rebellion. 

"Jan. I, 1845. '^^^ Year's Day. Still at Camp Wilkins, 
the name I gave to the ca^np of the 3rd Regiment of Infantry, 
adjacent to Fort Jesup. Colonel Twiggs's 2nd Regiment of 
Dragoons is in the barracks at the so-called Fort — there is 
nothing like a fort here. . . . Some of our officers have been 
to a horse-race — others have witnessed that barbarous amuse- 
ment, a gander-pulling. The ladies of camp have received 
calls. After mess I had a short ride on my bay Jim, and 
then took up the Meditations of Marcus Aurelius Antoninus, 
that heathen Spinoza. 

** Evening. I came home and amused myself with the 
flute, playing the opera of Oberon and one or two others. 
Then I took a fancy to count my books and found 761, besides 
ntimerous pamphlets, magazines, and tracts, and also not 
including my music, of which I have over 60 volumes bound 
and enough music in sheets for 20 volumes more. 

190 Fifty Years in Camp and Field 

"15th Jan. *45. I have been for several days reading the 
Chevalier Ramsay's Philosophical Principles of Natural and 
Revealed Religion Unfolded, the writer says * in a geometrical 
order.* It is in two quarto volumes. I have been amused 
to see how everything is converted into an argument for the 
support of the author's particular theory. I have also read 
the exceedingly interesting commentary upon the Golden Verses 
of the Pythagoreans by Hierocles — about a.d. 450. The only 
unpleasant sensation I have in reading it is the regret that I 
had not access to it twenty or thirty years ago. 

**0n taking up Helvetius on Man, I see it was a posthu- 
mous publication. In the same way, Spinoza, Hume, Boling- 
broke, and Dr. Hutcheson left their principal theological 
works to be printed after their death. If it be said that they 
feared public censure, it may at least be added that they 
sought no personal gain. 

"Mere outward knowledge, such as may be acquired from 
books and often passes for philosophy, is really extrinsic to 
the soul, something put on us, as it were, which cannot in 
the end give the peace that passeth imderstanding. By 
theology I do not understand a belief in any set of dogmas, 
reasonable or unreasonable, of this age or any other, of this 
country or any other, but I mean an inward experience or 
perception which books cannot teach but which is as likely 
to be suggested by lamblichus or Spinoza as anybody. I 
think I see it now, as it were, and while the wind rustles the 
leaves on the trees near my door, I feel a kind of eternity in 
it and I see how men pass away with both their praise and 
dispraise neutralizing each other and are lost in the infinite.** 

"Steamer De Soto, March 28. Troubled with severe 
dyspepsia. Taking an excursion to New Orleans for variety. 
Aground in Red River. But I have a very remarkable book 
— Vestiges of the Natural History of Creation. The author 
labors to prove that all things have been produced by what 
he calls a Law of Development.** 

During this excursion Colonel Hitchcock visited his friends 
in New Orleans and Mobile, in the former city calling on 
Colonel Many, the Colonel of the 3rd Infantry. He seemed in 
pretty good health, but had not been in active command 
of the regiment for many years. On ^May 13th, in the absence 

Dissolution of the Union Predicted 191 

of General Twiggs, Hitchcock was placed in command of the 
post at Fort Jesup by General Taylor. The assignment was 
challenged by a Major of the Dragoons, but it appears to 
have held good. During May and June, six or eight lines 
are devoted to the military and social life of the camp, and 
twenty-five pages to a consideration of Herder and Ritter, 
of Aristotle, Epicurus, and Zeno, of the inconceivable Abso- 
lute and the unknowable noumenon. It was in abstruse 
philosophy and not in practical trivialities that Hitchcock 
found his satisfaction. But a sharp turn in the current of his 
life was at hand. 



FOR ten years Texas had been a storm centre. Ever 
since Santa Anna crossed the Rio Grande and Sam 
Houston rallied the Texans to establish a new frontier, 
the whole country had been in a fever of apprehension and 
solicitude. Presidential messages and partisan speeches elab- 
orated the rights and the wrongs of Texas, the conditions 
of her independence, and the location of her boundaries. 
President Polk had been elected and was now ready to take 
a hand. 

**Fort Jesup, La., June 30, 1845. Orders came last even- 
ing by express from Washington City directing General Taylor 
to move without any delay to some point on the coast near 
the Sabine or elsewhere, and as soon as he shall hear of the 
acceptance by the Texas convention of the annexation reso- 
lutions of our Congress he is immediately to proceed with 
his whole command to the extreme western border of Texas 
and take up a position on the banks of or near the Rio Grande, 
and he is to expel any armed force of Mexicans who may 
cross that river. Bliss read the orders to me last evening 
hastily at tattoo. I have scarcely slept a wink, thinking of 
the needful preparations. I am now noting at reveille by 
candle-light and waiting the signal for muster. . . . Vio- 
lence leads to violence, and if this movement of ours does not 
lead to others and to bloodshed, I am much mistaken. 

''Fort Jesup, La., July 3. We are under orders for Texas, 



Third Infantry Embarks at New Orleans 193 

I may say, for the United States Government, or the execu- 
tive, rather, is evidently determined to send troops into 
Texas if the least color of a pretext can be found — the only 
object being to make a practical exhibition of annexation. 

"Yesterday we received the order announcing the death 
of General Jackson — ^he died (in his bed ? !) at the Hermitage 
the 8th of June. We fired a salute at reveille this morning 
and are to fire half-hour guns throughout the day,' — at sun- 
down a national salute. At 10 a.m. we are to parade and 
have the order read, after which all work is to be suspended 
for the day. The flag is to be hung at half mast for a week, 
and all officers are to wear crape on their left arms and swords 
for six months." 

"New Orleans, July 16, 1845. The 3rd Infantry under 
my command left Fort Jesup on Monday, the 7th, at reveille, 
and marched that day sixteen miles towards Natchitoches. 
The next day marched to the river and embarked in two 
steamboats and arrived here without detention on the loth. 
Provided with quarters in the Lower Cotton Press at $100 
a day — pretty costly. We called on General Gaines and on 
Colonel Many, of our regiment, on sick leave from old age 
and its disabilities. ... I am also ill." 

' ' At sea, July 2 3 . We, eight companies of the 3rd Infantry, ^ 
are on board the steamer Alabama, having just passed the 
Balize settlement of houses on piles at the mouth of the 
Mississippi. On our way to plant the flag of the U. S. in 
Texas. General Taylor is on board, in command of the army 
(to be) of occupation." 

"July 26. Arrived last evening within a few miles of 
the entrance to Aransas Bay (in southern Texas north of the 
Nueces Rive!*). . . . After breakfast some of us will go 
ashore in a small boat. General Taylor seems anxious to 
get the men ashore, on the island. Our lighters are not 
here. . . . 

"6 P.M. High wind and rough sea, but we with great dif- 
ficulty landed three companies with their mess-chests. I 
first sent Lieutenant Chandler ashore and he planted a small 
U. S. flag on a sandhill — the first stars and stripes ever raised 
in Texas by authority. Although water was difficult to 

> Two companies were left in New Orleans. 

194 Fifty Years in Camp and Field 

find we sent off three more companies — assisted by a Texas 
revenue cutter and a small sloop-rigged boat. " 

"St. Joseph's Island [opposite Aransas Bay], July 28. 

I came from the str. Alabama yesterday with the last of the 
3rd Infantry, on the lighter steamer. Undine, and slept on 
board. This morning rode around the camp of the regiment, 
scattered for three miles up and down the length of the island. 
We have found good water and also had fish and oysters 
for breakfast. There are two or three families living on 

"Corpus Christi, *Texas,* Aug. i, 1845. At length I date 
*in Texas, * beyond the islands. On the morning of the 29th, 
General Taylor determined to take two companies aboard 
the lighter Undine and attempt to pass down the bay of 
Aransas into that of Corpus Christi, between the islands 
and the mainland. The difficulty was that the lighter drew more 
than 4 feet of water and it was reported that there were but 
2i feet on the flats. The General changed his mind two or 
three times as to the expedience of trying it, but we finally 
got off before noon, and ran aground about 5 miles down the 
bay. There we stayed all day and all night; but we at last 
landed some men and provisions on a raft. Another night 
passed. It was still found impossible to cross the fiats and 
General Taylor directed the quartermaster to hire all the fish- 
ing boats that had gathered around us from curiosity and 
transfer the men and cargo to them. He was quite beside him 
self with anxiety, fatigue, and passion. I undertook to tell him 
that the troops could be very comfortable on St. Joseph's 
Island till a high southwest wind should give us high water 
on the fiats ; but he would not listen to me and was exceedingly 
impatient to have the companies off. We finally were got 
on board of seven small boats and left the steamer about 

II A.M. yesterday and landed here at sun-down. 

"All comments agree that our safe arrival is little short 
of a miracle, and is attributable to the mere accident of the 
bay being tolerably calm. The people here say that on any 
oramary day the wind would have raised such a sea as would 
have swamped some of the boats, perhaps all. I am now 
here, however, with two companies of the 3rd Infantry — 
K and G, — the first troops occupying the soil of Texas. Corpus 

Hitchcock in Command at Corpus Christi 195 

Christi is a very small village at the head of the bay. Our 
arrival is hailed with satisfaction. " 

Yet the regiment was now clearly in Mexico, according 
to all the treaties, agreements, and maps which had fixed the 
frontier. Corpus Christi was a settlement of a few houses 
on the west bank of the Nueces River, thitherto claimed by 
Mexico and conceded by Texas to be the boundary. The 
inhabitants were smugglers and lawless persons to whom war 
was prosperity and "satisfaction." 

**3rd Aug. The regiment is gradually coming up the 
bay, even the two companies — B and I — ^left at New Orleans. 
The 4th Infantry is, I hear, also off Aransas Bay. My diar- 
rhea is aggravating," 

**5th Aug. Captain Bainbridge arrived last evening with 
his company (F) about 10 o'clock and anchored several 
hundred yards from shore. I sent a small boat to him, but, 
instead of landing himself, he sent a part of his company 
with a message that he wished to remain on board till morning 
(wanted to sleep!). Sent word back to him to unload his 
boat if possible. He returned messenger to say "As before." 
I then sent a special message to him which brought ashore 
his whole company, bag and baggage. The entire landing 
was effected by i in the night, so that the boat could go back 
after another company. Bainbridge is an honorable and 
gentlemanly officer, but fond of his comfort and comforts. 
As we are as yet but a fragment, and but two days* cavalry 
march from Matamoras where Generals Arista and Ampudia 
are said to be with a considerable force, it is no time for any 
one to study his ease overmuch." 

"Corpus Christi, Aug. 7. Companies A and C are still 
behind. ... I have been ill for the last two days, but 
am better to-day. My sickness is perhaps partly disgust 
at the state of things here — the haste and ignorance displayed 
in this movement. The government has actually no infor- 
mation of the coast, harbors, bars, etc., and as little of the 

"Corpus Christi, Aug. 15. Last evening we received 
news of a declaration of war by Mexico against the United 
States, and this morning I am preparing to fortify my camp. 
General Taylor advised that I occupy the hill with a field 

196 Fifty Years in Camp and Field 

work and place the artillery there. I see this will not 

"19th Aug. It appears that General Taylor has aban- 
doned his idea of going to San Patricio, leaving his advance 
stores liable to be cut off, as he would have done. If this is 
the result of anything I have written I am well satisfied. 

''What was announced as a declaration of war turns out 
to be a circular to the frontier generals calling on them to 
fill up their armies, and disclosing the intention to send to 
Congress 'the next day* a war message. " 

It turned out that the warlike menaces were delayed. 
The declaration of war was not made at the time expected. 
The camp at Corpus Christi was entrenched and became 
permanent in form, all the officers present apparently believing 
the Nueces to be rightfully the extreme western border of 
Texas, as was asserted by the Mexican government. Colonel 
Hitchcock had been placed in command of Corpus Christi and 
the troops assembling there. Captain Bliss, chief of staff, 
wrote him from St. Joseph's Island, where General Taylor 
was encamped: "The Commanding General desires me to 
say that he places the utmost reliance on your judgment and 
energy in this crisis. War has heen declared by Mexico. 
The General feels in honor bound to defend the line of the 
Nueces. ** 

Then the diary records: "Some Mexican traders have come 
from the Rio Grande, to sell their goods and buy tobacco, etc. 
They bring their money in silver bars, moulded in sand, each 
embracing $50 to $60, of pure silver. Exchanged by weight. 
General Taylor has been hoping to open indirectly some com- 
munication with General Arista through 'Colonel Kinney,* 
the proprietor of this ranch. 

"The 2nd Regiment Dragoons is due to-morrow to reach 
San Patricio, 1 all in good health and condition, a month from 
Fort Jesup, overland." 

"C. C, 24th Aug. Yesterday General Taylor set out 
for San Patricio to meet Colonel Twiggs and his regiment. 
Colonel Kinney and I rode out a few miles in company with 
the General and his personal staff, and returned together. 
Kinney seems to have a government of his own here, and to 

« Twenty-five miles northward. 

On the Nueces 197 

be alternately the friend and foe of Mexicans, Texans, Amer- 
icans, and Indians, sometimes defying them and meeting them 
with force and sometimes bribing and wheedling them. He 
lives by smuggling goods across the line. 

"11 A.M. One of the most terrific storms I ever knew. 
Two valuable colored servants struck by lightning. One 
killed, the other may recover. Many tents blown down. 
Thunder sounded like incessant cannonade. Most of the 
ammunition has been protected." 

*'C. C, 25th Aug. More troops have arrived to-day, and 
Lieutenant Ringgold has made his appearance at the mouth 
of the river with despatches from Washington for General 
Taylor. Camp is wild with speculations. Despatches believed 
to be important, because it is reported that the quartermaster 
in New Orleans gave a steamer $1000 to anticipate her depart- 
ure by a single day. We shall soon know." 

**C. C. 26th Aug. Soon after noting the above Colonel 
Kinney and myself set out on horseback to meet General 
Taylor, expecting to ride out five or six miles; but we met 
him within a few hundred yards of camp. He told us he had 
been lost by his guide the day before yesterday and was out., 
all night. Going on next day, he met the dragoons about a. 
mile this side of San P., in full march for the 'relief of this 
command! The thunder-storm I spoke of was heard by the 
regiment twenty miles the other side of San P., and, supposing 
it to be artillery firing, held a hasty council and, under great 
excitement, agreed to push on with all speed to the relief 
of this place, believed to be attacked by Mexicans! They 
got their baggage over the river on a hasty raft and swam 
their horses. 

"I told the General that a special messenger had arrived 
from Washington. Toward evening Ringgold arrived and 
brought up his despatches. We are all surprised to learn 
that the President of the United States has ordered the 2nd 
and 8th Infantry hither and 4 companies of light artillery,, 
and has informed General Taylor that in case of need he 
can call out any number of militia he may think proper. 
Lieutenant Ringgold represents that great excitement pre- 
vails in Washington as to our exposed situation here; that, 
in the absence of Scott, the President and Secretary of War 

198 Fifty Years in Camp and Field 

have ordered on the additional troops. Not the least curi- 
ous part of the news from the Bay is that General Gaines 
in New Orleans has taken it upon himself to call two compa- 
nies of volunteer artillery into service and these are now 
off shore. It seems that the ridiculousness of the plan to 
send 800 or 1200 men to make war upon a civilized nation 
of 8,000,000 inhabitants has occurred to others besides 

" C. C. , 28th Aug. The 2nd Dragoons arrived in camp yester- 
day. General Taylor, myself, and two or three other officers 
rode out about a mile and met the advance. After shaking 
hands with Colonel Twiggs and those with him, I passed along 
the column and shook hands with the officers and found them 
pretty well. Colonel Twiggs said he had not been well during 
the long march — the wonder is that he came. They have 
lost three by death and nearly fifty by desertion. 

*' Colonel Kinney's position here is an extraordinary one. 
While an object of suspicion to both Texans and Mexicans, 
he seems to be regarded as a man of power by both sides and 
capable of serving both sides. He seems to have no con- 
cealments, but frankly declares that the Texans have no 
right to go (or claim) to the Rio Grande." 

"29th Aug. Received last evening ... a letter from 
Captain Casey and a map of Texas from the Quarter-mas- 
ter-General's office, the latter being the one prepared by 
Lieutenant Emory ; but it has added to it a distinct boundary 
mark to the Rio Grande. Our people ought to be damned 
for their impudent arrogance and domineering presumption! 
It is enough to make atheists of us all to see such wickedness 
in the world, whether punished or unpunished." 

"C. C, Sept. 2. Papers come to me irregularly drawn 
and signed, even by the senior officers. What a pretty figure 
we cut here! We have the 3rd, 4th and 7th regiments of 
infantry, the 2nd regiment of dragoons, a company of regular 
artillery, and two companies of volunteer artillery, and, among 
the senior officers, neither General Taylor nor Colonel Whistler 
commanding the brigade could form them into line! Even 
Colonel Twiggs could put the troops into line only 'after a 
fashion' of his own. As for manoeuvring, not one of them 
can move a step in it. Egotism or no egotism, I am the only 

His Forethought Sole Source of SuppHes 199 

field officer on the ground who could change a single position 
of the troops according to any but a militia mode. 

*' Since I am alluding to myself I will note: In New 
Orleans I procured on my own requisition complete supplies 
for the Q. M., Commissary and Ordnance departments of 
my regiment. When we got here my quartermaster and 
commissary practically served the whole army. Yesterday 
my qr. mr., Lieutenent Chandler, worn out with fatigue, 
applied to me and I asked the General to have the brigade 
qr. mr. attend to the wants of the brigade. This was approved, 
when, lo and behold! it is discovered that the whole army 
depends upon me for supplies! No horse can be shod, no 
bridle rein mended, no tent-pole made or repaired, no rope 
had, but from me. I have taken occasion to remind Captain 
Crossman that for carrying this very 'baggage' my regiment 
has been scolded by the General and that now the whole army 
is depending on it. He is plainly chagrinned, and candidly 
admits that but for me the army would be destitute. Colonel 
Twiggs is one of the forethoughtful and provident officers 
in the army, but he has made a long and exhausting march 
through the country." 

"C. C, 7th Sept. Yesterday I called on Colonel Kinney 
with General Taylor, and as I left them I met Chepeta, Kin- 
ney's spy, just in from the Rio Grande. He has heard that 
3000 Mexican troops are approaching Matamoras — will reach 
there in a week. Now only about 500 men there. Revolt of 
Mexicans south of river threatened. We are quite in the 
dark. The General may have information which he keeps to 
himself, but I know him too well to believe he has any." 

"8th Sept. A Mexican has brought in a letter from 
General Arista, dated 20th Aug. at Meir. So then General 
Arista has been at Meir and the General of the Am. 'Army 
of Occupation' has been in profound ignorance of the fact! 
The letter is addressed to a citizen and refuses to give him 
a pass to Matamoras : says General A. is there to defend the 
honor of his country; that, the United States having seized 
upon a Mexican province, war has become necessary and 
just. Do not know what force Arista has with him. Captain 
Hardee and I agree that, if the Mexicans are 'smart' they 
can give us trouble. 

200 Fifty Years in Camp and Field 

*' General Taylor talks, whether sincerely or not, of going 
to the Rio Grande. This is singular language from one who 
originally and till very lately denounced annexation as both 
injudicious in policy and wicked in fact! The 'claim,' so- 
called, of the Texans to the Rio Grande, is without foimdation. 
The argument of Mr Walker ^ passes by the treaty of 1819, 
by which the United States gave up all west and south of 
the Sabine, either saying nothing about it or presuming that 
it was not valid. Yet we took possession of Florida under 
that treaty. The truth is that the limits of old Louisiana 
were never settled imtil by that treaty, so that the treaty 
of 18 1 9 was really only a treaty of limits or boundary so far 
as Louisiana was concerned ; and to say that the Senate, or 
treaty-making power, has no authority to determine a question 
of boimdary; is preposterous. Louisiana had no fixed boim- 
dary when Louis XV. ceded it to Charles IIL of Spain and 
none when it was ceded back to France (to Napoleon), and 
continued to have none when it was purchased by the United 
States from France. The treaty of 18 19 fixed the boimdary, 
and since then Texas has been to the United States as much 
a foreign country as Yucatan, and we have no right whatever 
to go behind the treaty. 

"As for Texas, her original limit was the Nueces and the 
hills ranging north from its sources, and she has never con- 
quered, possessed, or exercised dominion west of the Nueces, 
except that a small smuggling company at this place, living 
here by Mexican sufferance, if not under Mexican protection, 
has chosen to call itself Texan, and some of the inhabitants 
have chosen to call themselves Texans.'* 

**C. C, 13th Sept. Yesterday brought us a disaster. 
A small old steamer, the Dayton, employed for a few days 
by the government, burst her boiler a few miles from here, 
near McGroin's Bluff, and killed seven men and wounded 
seventeen. Among the killed were Lieutenants Higgins and 
Berry of the 4th Infantry, and my regiment lost one excellent 
young man, private Hughes. The Dayton had just completed 
the time for which she was hired when she exploded, with 
such terrible results." 

» Robert J. Walker, Polk's Secretary of the Treasury, a prominent ad- 
vocate of the claims of Texas. 

His Forethought Sole Source of Supplies 201 

** 14th Sept. A military funeral took place to-day at 
the burial-ground which I selected. It is on the brow of 
the hill northwest of camp, and commands a view of the 
Nueces and Corpus Christi Bay. It is a beautiful spot. 
Another body was found afloat and brought in to-day, and 
two of the injured have died in hospital, making ten deaths 
from the accident. '* 



THE camp of "the Army of Occupation, " as it was called, 
had by this time become a centre of excited interest 
throughout the country. Enlistments went on in 
every State of the Union. Troops were hurried down the 
Gulf of Mexico to "the front." Before the middle of Sep- 
tember several more companies of artillery had arrived at 
Corpus Christi and the 5th and 8th Infantry were on their 
way and hourly expected. By the first of October there 
were 3000 or 4000 men in camp, divided into three brigades. 
Most of the officers were of course as carelessly subservient 
as the men to the commands of the government, but Hitch- 
cock, while strictly obeying orders and cordially co-operating, 
as a soldier should, took the liberty, as has been seen, to 
have an opinion of his own as to the propriety of the advance 
to Corpus Christi. It was now obvious that a movement 
further into Mexico would be made, perhaps a sudden move- 
ment, and the methodical diarist records how he had sent 
his valuable portables back to the States and disposed of 
his property in case of "accident.*' Among his subordinates 
at Corpus Christi were several men whose names became 
famous twenty years later in the War for the Union — Hooker, 
Heintzelman, Doubleday, Casey, Grant, Mansfield, Meade, 
Buell, Longstreet, Lee, Hardee, Hill, Johnston, and others. 
Almost all of the "houses" in Corpus Christi are, he says, 
"drinking houses put up since our arrival. " 

"C. C, Sept. 20. General Taylor came into my tent 


The Calm before the Storm 203 

this morning and again, as frequently of late, he introduced 
the subject of moving upon the Rio Grande. I discovered 
this time more clearly than ever that the General is instigated 
by ambition — or so it appears to me. He seems quite to 
have lost all respect for Mexican rights and willing to be an 
instrument of Mr. Polk for pushing our boundary as far west 
as possible. When I told him that, if he suggested a move- 
ment (which he told me he intended), Mr. Polk would seize 
upon it and throw the responsibility on him, he at once said 
he would take it, and added that if the President instructed 
him to use his discretion, he woiild ask no orders, but would 
go upon the Rio Grande as soon as be could get transportation. 
I think the General wants an additional brevet, and would 
strain a point to get it.'* 

"3d Oct. It is noteworthy that since the arrival of the 
2d Dragoons there have been several disgraceftil brawls and 
quarrels, to say nothing of drunken frolics. The dragoons 
have made themselves a public scandal. One captain has 
resigned to avoid trial, and two others have had a dirty 
brawl. Two others still are on trial for fighting over a low 
woman. " 

"2d Nov. Newspapers all seem to indicate that Mexico 
will make no movement, and the government is magnani- 
mously bent on taking advantage of it to insist upon 'our 
claim ' as far as the Rio Grande. I hold this to be monstrous 
and abominable. But now, I see, the United States of Amer- 
ica, as a people, are undergoing changes in character, and 
the real status and principles foi which our forefathers fought 
are fast being lost sight of. If I could by any decent means 
get a living in retirement, I would abandon a government 
which I think corrupted by both ambition and avarice to 
the last degree." 

"8th Nov. My books have arrived in good order. . . . 
About the 5th came news, sent by Commodore Connor at 
Vera Cruz in a letter to General Taylor, saying that the Mexican 
government had acceded to the proposition of our govern- 
ment to settle all difficulties by negotiation. . . . Have been 
quite sick for three or four weeks, but am getting better." 

"17th Nov. I thought a few days ago that I was getting 
decidedly better, and hoped myself almost well, but last 

204 Fifty Years in Camp and Field 

night a sort of relapse came upon me, and to-day I have been 
in alarm lest the worst stage shotild return." 

*'C. C, Nov. 28. Am quite ill again. Have been sick 
almost ever since I left Louisiana. Although I have obtained 
temporary relief two or three times, the trouble (diarrhea) 
has come back upon me and now prevails with increased 
virulence. If I value either health or life I may feel it a 
duty to go away from this climate for a time altogether. " 

The weather was cold and rainy during these months, 
and officers and men had much difficulty keeping comfortable. 
Yet Hitchcock, Bliss, and Larnard read much and commented 
more — ^their chief authors being Spinoza, Swendenborg, Schil- 
ler, Kant, Toland, Hobbes, Socinus — ^all earnestly struggling 
after what they reverently called Truth. 

**C. C, Dec. 19. This morning I sent to the President of 
the U. S. Senate a memorial drawn up by me on solicitation of 
many officers, on the subject of brevet and staff rank. It sets 
forth the opinions we officers entertain in opposition to the opin- 
ion of General Scott as published to the army in recently printed 
circular. This circular is an impertinent interposition between 
General Taylor and the President, and Scott pretends that it 
was written at the request of the Secretary of War, * he not 
having leisure at this time, ' etc. General Scott has been in 
controversy concerning brevet rank ever since the War of 1 8 1 2 , 
and now that he is Major-General he avails himself of all occa- 
sions to give precedence to brevet rank in violation of law and 
reason. General Taylor, being embarrassed here by Scott's 
orders, appealed directly to the President, asking for his offi- 
cial decision. But General Scott, with shameless effrontery, 
answered the question himself, cutting General Taylor off 
from the President. But now we have sent a letter to the 
Senate on the subject, which General Scott will wish he had 
not provoked, and some one hundred and thirty of us have 
signed it. '' 

On examination of the memorial itself, which was care- 
fully printed, with the names and rank of the signers, it is 
seen that the signers numbered no less than 158, and were 
from every rank of the army, from Colonel Twiggs and Colonel 
Whistler down to the 2d lieutenants. The memorial was 
dated Dec. 12th, and occupies ten printed octavo pages, and 

Controversy Concerning Military Rank 205 

is followed by General Scott's letter which gave rise to it. 
As it is now chiefly interesting to army officers, whose conduct 
has ever since been affected by the ultimate decision, it need 
not be reprinted here. It was a fearless protest aimed at 
the Commander-in-Chief of the army, and took high ground, 
not only of remonstrance but of accusation and warning. 
It quoted from General Scott's letter the sentence : 

"All military rank, derived from law, must be equally 
valid except so far, only, as it may be restricted by law. '* 

To this it demurred and made answer : 

"All military rank is valid so far only as made so by law, 
and not in so far as it is not restricted by law. " 

Before entering on the legal and historic argument the 
memorial boldly set forth : 

"We expect to show, with the utmost clearness, that the 
real ground of what we regard as the erroneous views of Major- 
General Scott, so far as those views assumed the appearance of 
argument founded on law, is the assumption of a wrong principle — 
one of the most erroneous and dangerous that has ever been dis- 
cussed among men: a principle that has been warred against 
by the intelligence and liberty of nations since the dawn of modem 
history ; a principle by which King John was brought into conflict 
with his nobles, who compelled him so far to relinquish it as to 
sign the great charter regarded as the foundation of English liberty ; 
a principle in the struggle to support which Charles I. was brought 
to the block; a principle the partial destruction of which deluged 
France with the blood of her people — the principle of the despot, 
claiming to rule by divine right, and regarding himself as possessed 
of all power, except so far as in early ages it was restrained by 
the blind law of necessity, but which has been in more recent times 
put under some restraint by laws emanating from the wisdom 
and love of liberty of the people." 

The memorial quotes the Constitution of the United States 
and appeals to its authority and instances the rules laid 
down by President J. Q. Adams and President Jackson, the 
latter by no means punctilious in enforcing law. It further 

"If the General-in-Chief is thus forward to declare to the 
army that the regulations of the President, the Constitutional 
Commander-in-Chief of the army, are null and void, he ought not 

2o6 Fifty Years in Camp and Field 

to be surprised if he should find among his subordinates in the 
army not a few who might be both able and willing to emulate 
his example and improve under his instructions, until his own orders 
and letters may be pronounced illegal, null, and void.** 

And it ends as follows: 

"We emphatically declare that our only object is to present 
the subject in such form as to awaken attention in the great delibera- 
tive and legislative body of the nation who have the power, and, 
we trust, will see the necessity, of legislating out of existence the 
causes of the present discontent in the army, which we are assured 
is on the increase and is rapidly tending to disorganization." 

** 2oth Dec. It seems a little odd that out of this whole 
army I should be pitched upon by common consent to take the 
initiative against this letter of General Scott; but I suppose it is 
because of my having prepared the protest in the Buell case 
which defeated General Scott more completely than he was ever 
before defeated in his life." 

The jealousies of army life of course continued to annoy, 
and when, shortly afterwards, Taylor ordered a review, 
designating Colonel Twiggs to command, Colonel Worth made 
such a violent protest on account of the precedence implied 
by his brevet that Taylor dispensed with the review. 

The letter, as was anticipated, made a stir in Washington, 
with the ultimate result that President Polk overruled Scott 
and re-established the regulations of eight sections, established 
by President Jackson, Aug. 13, 1829. 

*'C. C, Dec. 23. The President's message came last 
night. He reiterates the American claim to the whole Oregon 
country up to 54° 40', and it looks as if we should have war 
with Great Britain. As we are in trouble with Mexico, Eng- 
land will be sure to take advantage of it and occupy the 
disputed territory, the title to which, the President says, is 
* indisputable'! We shall probably back down to 49°." 

"New Year's Day, 1846. Mild and balmy. The day will 
go as other days — drinking, horse-racing, gambling, theatri- 
cal amusements. A ball is advertised for this evening in 
Corpus Christi. Colonel Kinney thinks there are 2000 people 
here besides the army. They are nearly all adventurers, 
■brought here to speculate on events growing out of the pres- 
ence of troops and the uncertain state of things between 

Old Order Restored 207 

the United States and Mexico. There are no ladies here, 
and very few women. I take part in no one of the amuse- 
ments or dissipations of the place, but remain quiet in my 
tent or walk leisurely through the town to see what is going 
on. Just finished reading Mrs. Shelley's Rambles in Germany 
and Italy. See no evidence of talent in it. '* 

"Corpus Christi, 8th Jan., 1846. News comes of the 
passage through the U. S. Senate of the resolutions for the 
admission of Texas. Also passed the House by a decided 
majority. In the Senate several States did not vote. It only 
remains for the people of Texas to elect their officers {al- 
ready done, I believe) and Texas becomes a State of the 
North American Union. Meantime we hear that the Mex- 
ican General, Paredes, is determined to depose the President, 

''Jan. 10. I can read Spinoza*s Ethics when nothing 
else interests me. I am reading it now and let the news go 
by unheeded, though reports of war are rife with both England 
and Mexico. I cannot help thinking that we are likely to 
be in the wrong in both cases: we certainly are so with re- 
gard to Mexico." 

January was mostly spent by Colonel Hitchcock in reading 
and in writing out with his own hand a "small and conven- 
ient" copy of Spinoza's Ethics — an original translation by 
his brother, Samuel. It was finished on Feb. 4th " 616 pages — 
no small job for less than twenty days, to one who has never 
practised chirography at all as an art." About this time 
he had a correspondence with the poet Longfellow concerning 
Rossetti's mystics and their esoteric writings. 

"Feb. 4. . . . We hear vaguely that General Arista has 
declared independence and is determined to set up for him- 
self north of Monterey. . . . General Taylor received orders 
yesterday to move to the Rio Grande, and he has declared 
his purpose of going to the northeast bank, directly opposite 
Matamoras. This will make a considerable stir." 

"9th Feb. We have to-day a report that Paredes has 
started 2000 men in this direction and that 4000 more are 
to follow, swearing death and extermination to us. The de- 
partments along the Rio Grande at the same time threaten 
to set up an independent Mexican government." 

2o8 Fifty Years in Camp and Field 

"nth Feb. Reports vary by the hour: hostile news 
from England and from beyond the Rio Grande: the 2000 
men coming have rtin up to 7, 8, 10, and even 15,000 — ^that 
we shall be invested by 20,000 men and starved out, etc." 

** 13th Feb. We have now a weekly newspaper at this 
place. This morning is issued an extra with news direct 
from Mexico, where Paredes is ordering out an army of sixty 
to a hundred thousand men for the recovery of Texas, etc." 

During this winter Hon. J. A. Black, M. C, from South 
Carolina, made a report to Congress on the state of the army, 
in which he took occasion to disparage the service, alluding 
to the older officers as superannuated and to the younger 
as ** enervated by the ease and luxury of a peace establish- 
ment." Colonel Hitchcock resented the report in a letter 
to Black, dated March 8th, constructed on the lines of a fierce 
sarcasm, a mode of expression in which he seldom indulged. 
Irony seemed incongruous with the usual amiable equanimity 
of his temper. 

He thanked the Congressman for his fairness and impar- 
tiality, and congratulated him on the comprehensive intelli- 
gence and knowledge of the country which the report revealed. 
The army would rejoice in having such a well-informed man 
as its champion, especially the members of regiments posted 
among the Indians or waiting to receive the enemies of the 
country on the harassed frontier. "It is consoling to know 
that our services and sacrifices are appreciated." Hitchcock 
recalled the fact that Black had once been in the army, and 
added, "The facility with which you have drawn the picture 
can be explained only by supposing that you referred to 
your own experience and sat for the picture yourself — ^if I 
may be excused for adopting the idea of a noble bard. " Sev- 
eral of the regiments had been under canvas or in temporary 
huts of their own erection for five years, and the "ease and 
luxury" were illustrated by the fact that 

more than half of the whole army has been more than six months 
encamped at this place, having just passed through one of the 
most inclement winters ever known in this country, with a very 
slender supply of fuel and necessarily using the worst of water, 
sometimes even brackish, from which many have died and all 
have suffered. . . . This is a feeble testimony of the feeling so 

Taylor Crosses into Mexico 209 

naturally excited by your laudable endeavors to do justice to an 
entire class of men, . . . exposed, as the army is, to defamation 
from demagogues, often so destitute of honor and honesty them- 
selves as to hate all that is noble and virtuous in others. 
I have the honor to be, very respectfully, 

Your obedient servant, 

E. A. Hitchcock, 
Lt. Col. jd Infantry. 

The worst of it was that this letter was widely published. 
To say that Mr. Black was grieved and indignant does not 
begin to express it. He resolved that he would have the 
head of this exasperating officer. In his diary of a subsequent 
year, General Hitchcock records apropos of this correspondence : 

** I am reminded of what Secretary of War Marcy told me 
during a visit to Washington some months after my letter 
was printed. He said that Mr. Black came to him and de- 
manded my immediate dismissal from the army. Mr. Marcy 
lightly replied that gentlemen in the army must be allowed 
to have their opinions. Black then, with great violence, de- 
nounced the letter as an insult to Congress and repeated his 
demand for my dismissal. Mr. Marcy said he could not see 
that Congress had been insulted: that the letter was ad- 
dressed exclusively to Mr. B., and, in its tenor, was in the 
highest degree complimentary on the face of it, and he did 
not see how it could be the subject of a charge of disrespect 
to Congress. 'However,* Mr. Marcy concluded, 'you can 
prepare and submit your charges and they will be considered ; 
but, as the court for the trial of Colonel Hitchcock will have 
to be composed of officers, you may naturally conclude where 
their sympathies will tend. * 

*'0n reflection, Mr. Black concluded that he could accom- 
plish nothing by charges, and dropped the subject — ^and re- 
turned to obscurity. '* 



BEFORE Hitchcock's letter had reached Washington the 
''Army of Occupation" started for the seat of war, — 
Matamoras, 150 miles due south. The diarist, being 
quite ill, had no opportunity to make another entry till he 
had travelled 140 miles and nearly reached his destination. 

** March 25. The army is encamped on the road from 
Brazos Santiago (* Point Isabel') to Matamoras, about midway, 
or, say, 12 miles from Point Isabel and 15 from Matamoras 
(and 140 from Corpus Christi). The three brigades are to- 
day under command of brevet Brigadier-General Worth — 
General Taylor having yesterday gone down to Point Isabel 
with Colonel Twiggs and his seven companies of the 2d 
Dragoons, and a large wagon train, for supplies, ordered there 
by sea from Corpus Christi. Meantime we wait here with 
supplies for three or four days brought with us. The army 
left Corpus Christi in four columns at intervals of one day. 
The dragoons and Ringgold's artillery set off on the 8th 
inst. ; the ist brigade (General Worth) and Duncan's artillery 
on the 9th; the 2d brigade (Colonel Mcintosh) on the 10th; 
the 3d brigade (Colonel Whistler) and Bragg's artillery com- 
pany on the nth. My regiment belongs to the 3d brigade. 
We have been on the road two weeks. 

"I was sick and in bed three days before the 3d brigade 
marched, and was strongly urged by Doctor Kennedy, Captain 
Larnard, and my adjutant not to attempt to accompany the 
regiment. Craig and others urged the same thing. But I 


Advance on Matamoras . 211 

knew the importance to myself individually of coming, if pos- 
sible, and I have come thus far under every disadvantage — 
riding a number of days in an ox-wagon on a bed laid on 
boxes of ammunition. The last two or three days I have 
ridden on my horse, but am exceedingly fatigued and weak 
to the last degree. 

''The army continued to advance, the columns about a 
day's march apart, till Colonel Twiggs got within some thirty 
miles of the Colorado, a small river about 125 miles from 
Corpus Christi, and some 30 from Matamoras. At that point 
Lieutenant Hamilton, commanding Twiggs's advance, was 
halted by a small Mexican guard (22 men, some say), and 
told by the commander that if the army advanced further 
it wotdd be treated as an enemy. Twiggs sent an express 
back to General Taylor, and kept his horses saddled, I under- 
stand, for 36 hours, prepared to meet an attack. Taylor 
came up and they advanced with the brigade to the Colorado. 
At the river they were warned that they would be fired on 
if they attempted to cross. No one knew the strength of the 
Mexicans. There was parleying. The Mexican scout was on 
the north side of the river, both banks of which were massed 
with a thicket of muskeet and chapparal. Taylor told him 
that we should cross immediately, 'and,' he added, *if a 
single man of you shows his face after my men enter the river, 
I will open an artillery fire on him.' The man then retired 
over the river. General Taylor ordered Worth to cross, and 
Captain C. F. Smith plunged in with the four light companies 
of the I st brigade and formed on the south bank. The Mexicans 
dispersed without firing a shot. They were said to number 
300 all told. 

"This was on March 20th and 21st. The whole army 
remained in camp on the 22 nd waiting for an ox- train of 
supplies — necessarily slow. It had a guard of about 60 men. 
We have altogether about 320 wagons, hauled by mules 
and oxen. On the 23d we marched some 12 or 14 miles 
in four columns abreast at deploying intervals, and, as most 
of the march was through prairie, the army presented a fine 
appearance. We made a good deal of easting and came in 
sight of the coast of the Lagua Madre and Padre Island. 

"We encamped at night in one of the sweetest spots of 

212 Fifty Years in Camp and Field 

partially timbered country that I ever saw in my life. The 
wood was principally muskeet, a species of locust and very 
beautiful, the leaves fresh and green. There was an immense 
quantity of flowering acacia and the country was literally 
covered with flowers, while the woods were resonant with 
the songs of birds. Yesterday we all moved three or four 
miles and camped to wait the return of General Taylor. 

"Since crossing the Colorado we hear a multitude of 
reports of the most contradictory character. At one moment 
we hear of a large force crossing the Rio Grande at Matamoras 
to destroy us; then we hear that the people are in favor of 
our approach and everything is quiet. We hear that 700 
men are on our rear and have been following us for several 
days. They have not been anxious to overtake us, for we 
have moved slowly. I have been very much prostrated in 
strength — never was so weak and now I can scarcely hold my 
pencil to write legibly. 

*'As to the right of this movement, I have said from the 
first that the United States are the aggressors. We have 
outraged the Mexican government and people by an arro- 
gance and prestimption that deserve to be punished. For ten 
years we have been encroaching on Mexico and insulting her. 
The Mexicans have in the whole of this time done but two 
wrong things: one was the destruction of the Constitution 
of 1824, which would have converted Texas into a mere 
department of Mexico ; this gave Texas the right of revolution, 
and she established her independence as far west as the Nueces, 
— no further; the other was the cold- blooded and savage 
murder of Fannin's men at Goliad — ^an individual piece of 
barbarity which has deprived the Mexican army of all respect 
among civilized people. Beyond these, I know of nothing 
Mexico has done to deserve censure. Her people I consider 
a simple, well disposed, pastoral race, no way inclined to 
savage usages. *' 

This was an auspicious time to make war on Mexico. 
In the first place, President Polk had purchased the friend- 
ship of Great Britain by hauling down our flag in British 
Columbia where it had floated for fifty years, and surrendering 
some 400,000 square miles of fertile land which, until we 
had crossed the Rio Grande, she had never claimed to own. 

Mexico Mostly Undefended 213 

The angry national cry of "Fifty-four forty or fight" had 
grown fainter and fainter and finally had ceased altogether, 
although the Pacific coast up to Alaska was clearly our own; 
and now without chagrin we saw the British flag go up over 
the great empire of the north — an empire enough to make 
eight states as large as England! Half a century later we 
bribed England again, and another ignoble *' understanding " 
of the same sort existed while the United States seized and 
subjugated the Philippine archipelago and England destroyed 
the republics of South Africa. 

Now, too, Mexico was mostly undefended. The people 
were hopelessly and fatally divided and warring among them- 
selves. Several different military men claimed each to be 
the rightful president of the republic during the advance of 
the American arms, including Herrera, Salas, Bravo, Paredes, 
Gomez-Farias, Arista, Bustamente, Comonfort, and Santa 
Anna. Most of these contestants were at this very moment 
in the field at the head of their partisans fighting each other 
when General Taylor arrived in sight of Matamoras. 

"26th March. We yesterday broke camp at 3 p.m. and 
advanced three miles to better water and we are now within 
ten miles of Matamoras. Last evening General Worth sent 
me a letter from General Taylor stating that on his way to 
Point Isabel he was overtaken by the prefect of the depart- 
ment of Tamaulipas, who presented a protest against his 
advance into the department. The General had just come 
in sight of Point Isabel and saw that the buildings were afire, 
burnt by the Mexicans, and he told the prefect that he would 
give him an answer when he had established himself opposite 
Matamoras. The prefect left him. This civil functionary 
travelled in a carriage with attendants in another. Certainly 
ever3rthing looks like opposition just now, and we ought to 
expect it. Indeed, I have expected it from the first. We have 
not one particle of right to be here. 

"Our force is altogether too small for the accomplishment 
of its errand. It looks as if the government sent a small force 
on purpose to bring on a war, so as to have a pretext for taking 
California and as much of this country as it chooses; for, 
whatever becomes of this army, there is no doubt of a war 
between the United States and Mexico. 

214 Fifty Years in Camp and Field 

**My heart is not in this business; I am against it from 
the bottom of my soul as a most tmholy and unrighteous 
proceeding; but, as a military man, I am botmd to execute 

**p.M. We are waiting the return, hourly expected, of 
General Taylor from Point Isabel. It is impossible to note 
the multitude of camp stories in circulation. One represents 
that Colonel Carabahal told Lieutenant Smith of my regiment 
(both Masons, 't is said) that General Canales has been fol- 
lowing up our rear with several hundred men, ostensibly to 
annoy us but really to co-operate with us against Paredes's 
forces : that the moment the army of Paredes shall be defeated 
by us (an event which he anticipates) 7000 men will rise 
against the Paredes government and declare the independence 
of the northern provinces, and that these provinces are willing 
to concede the Rio Grande as the boundary between them 
and the United States . Another story is that General Ampudia, 
with 2 500 men, was to arrive at Matamoras to-day, and it is sup- 
posed that he will cross the river and be ready to give us 
battle to-morrow, with such additional force as can be col- 
lected in and about Matamoras — ^in all about 4000 men. 
Colonel C. told Smith, also, by the way, that General Mehia, 
commandant of Matamoras, who issued the other day a 
furious proclamation, was actually in the interest of the con- 
templated revolt and issued the proclamation to deceive his 
government. Affairs seem to he very much involved, and 
we shall have either tolerably smooth sailing or a very bois- 
terous time, for if Canales and Carabahal are playing a deep 
game against us, we shall have this whole coimtry on us — 
several thousand men." 

"27th March. Morning finds us still in camp, ten miles 
from Matamoras, and General Taylor not back from Point 
Isabel. The weather has been stormy, preventing the landing 
of stores. Meantime the enemy has time to fortify and 
strengthen himself at Matamoras, or on this bank of the river 
where General Taylor told the prefect he would give him 
an answer to his protest. So they know where the General 
designs going. If he succeeds under all these circumstances, 
he will be fortunate beyond belief ; for we have not more than 
2300 men at the outside, and the Mexicans can certainly 

American Troops Undisciplined 215 

bring against us three or fotir times that number. They 
cannot be disciplined; but neither are our senior officers 
acquainted with the common drill of the battalion, much less 
with the movements of a brigade or an army. 

"The colonel of my brigade cannot give the simplest 
command — ^that of * break to the right to march to the left, * 
for instance — except at the prompting of his adjutant, and it 
is the same with the commander of the 2d brigade. At the 
late inspection at Corpus Christi by Colonel Churchill, Inspec- 
tor-General, both of these commanders confessed that they 
could not manoeuvre their brigades. As a result of this, the 
2d was not manoeuvered at all, and the 3d was carried 
through some movements next day, united with the 2d, 
first tmder the command of Colonel Garland and then under 
mine. General Worth of the ist brigade has some know- 
ledge of the principles of brigade movement, but his brigade 
is not practised. General Taylor knows nothing of army 
movements. We ought to be the best instructed troops in 
the world, but are far from it, except the regiments which 
as regiments are instructed. I can do an3^hing with the 3d 
Infantry, for every officer and every man knows his place 
and his duty. 

**i2 M. (27th) General Taylor has just returned from 
Point Isabel and has brought the loaded train with him, but 
reports sundry accidents. Wind high. Monmouth aground. 
Neva burned hole in boiler. 

*' General Taylor just passed my tent and inquired very 
kindly after my health. I told him I felt quite well except 
that I had no strength — could hardly stand. General Worth 
was with him and remarked that I looked better than when 
he saw me three days ago. At the hazard of my life I have 
cut off his chance of taking exception to my staying behind. 
I have suffered horribly, but I am satisfied. 

**p.M. Most of the train has come in, with letters and 
papers — ^none for me except Picayune containing my letter 
to Hon. Black, of S. C, ironically complimenting him for an 
abusive report about the army. 

"The talk now is that we are to march early to-morrow 
morning for the east bank of the Rio Grande del Norte, op- 
posite Matamoras. It will be an important move for good or evil. 

2i6 Fifty Years in Camp and Field 

" 5 P.M. The General [Taylor] has just called to see me. 
Says we are to set off at half past 6 to-morrow. He spoke of 
the thick chaparral of two miles or more through which the 
army must pass by one narrow road which debouches on 
an open plain two miles this side of Matamoras. If the enemy 
occupy the plain and plant cannon to command the debouch, 
we shall have some difficulty. It is a nice point. If we get 
through and encamp undisturbed for twenty- four hours, I 
greatly hope we shall not afterwards be disturbed, though 
there is no telling what individual ambition may lead some 
Mexican commander to do. 

*' To-morrow will be an important day. I told the General 
that, though sick and unable to do camp duty, I shall be at 
the head of my regiment in case of difficulty, as I intend to 
be, though scarcely able to sit up. 

** 28th March, 4 J a.m. As we were to make an early 
start to-day, I waked betimes and am up and dressed and 
am waiting breakfast. Captain Morris came to my tent to 
arrange mode of operating in case of a fight to-day. He said 
that our brigade commander, Colonel Garland, could not 
possibly give orders or dispose the brigade for battle. Colonel 
Garland commands the 4th Infantry, and Captain Morris, 
while I am sick, commands the 3d, and these, with Bragg's 
company of artillery, form the 3d brigade. Garland had 
called on Morris, but Morris told him that, in the event of 
difficulty, I would take command of the regiment, and they 
both came to me. Garland wished to determine on certain 
squares, as if we were sure to be attacked by cavalry. I told 
him it was impossible to fix upon any plan of that sort ; that 
our movements must depend upon the position and move- 
ments of the enemy and on the nature of the ground, though 
I agreed that we must manoeuvre our regiments independ- 
ently of Colonel Whistler. This day is to be an important 
one. I am very weak — ^so weak that I can but just sit up, 
but in case of trouble I hope to have strength to meet the 

** 2J P.M., and the army is quietly encamped opposite 
the city of Matamoras. We began our march in four columns 
at 6i A.M., and marched a few miles through an open prairie, 
when we came to muskeet and chaparral and the columns 

Hitchcock Severely 111 217 

fell to rear of each other, dragoons leading, then the ist, 2d, 
and 3d brigades — ^the whole train, some 300 wagons and 
upward following. This chaparral, with an occasional opening, 
continued some five or six miles, when we began to observe 
rude fences and partially cultivated fields with an occasional 
thatched hut. These fields and huts increased as we ap- 
proached the Rio Grande, and we finally came in view of the 
town apparently some few himdred yards from the opposite 
bank of the river. A few buildings stand out, elevated and 
with the appearance of decent dwellings. We have the river 
on one side and an old river bed (lake or lagoon) on the other, 
so that a strong force occupying the road over which we have 
come to-day would hold us in a cul-de-sac, and our only resource 
would be a desperate sortie or a sack of the city. 

" Stmday, March 29, 1846. Morning finds us iminterrupted 
in camp opposite Matamoras. Yesterday General Taylor 
made an effort to communicate with General Mehia, com- 
manding over the river, and ordered General Worth across. 
When we had got a boat. Worth and all his staff went over. 
Mehia said he would receive General Taylor, but not his sec- 
ond in command. He would receive a communication, how- 
ever. General Taylor sent one across and Worth delivered 
it — an answer to the protest of the prefect whom he saw at 
Frontone (Point Isabel.) General Worth then returned — 
the Mexicans swearing vengeance. His staff officers, I 
imderstand, represent the military there as exceedingly 
embittered and intimate a fight as soon as Ampudia comes 

** 12 M. I attempted to write some letters this morning, 
but was so weak that I had to give it up and lie down. Lieu- 
tenant Chandler foimd a book at a camp some days back 
— ^Lovell's American Reader— and I have been looking it 
over, but so weak that I can hardly hold it any length of 
time. . . . 

"Have read more of the Reader. It contains prose and 
poetry, American and English, with translations from Greek 
and Latin. I find many patriotic speeches about the defence 
of one's country, the sacred rights of one's own land, etc., 
and cannot help thinking that they do not apply to us in 
our attitude of aggression against the Mexicans, but that the 

2i8 Fifty Years in Camp and Field 

latter have all the motive that Romans or Athenians ever 
had to defend their coimtry. 

''29th March, 10 p.m. An alarm in camp to-night: 
Reported large body of Mexican cavaky has crossed river 
above to go down and attack Point Isabel or fall upon us. 
Said that the batteries in town, looking upon this camp, 
will open fire on us to-night. Army warned to be ready 
for night attack and sleep by their arms. General T. was 
in this afternoon, and does not think enemy will attack Point 
Isabel or the train, though I suggested that it was likely. 

'*3oth March, a.m., and all is quiet, though we had quite 
a stirring time last night. It is not really known whether 
the Mexican cavalry crossed the river. General Taylor 
thought proper to send three companies of dragoons down 
to defend Point Isabel. This morning the wagon train was 
sent to the Point for supplies, and the 7th Infantry has gone 
with it through the chaparral. A company was also sent 
up river to the supposed crossing place. ... No report. 
It is said that a large body of cavalry reached Matamoras 
yesterday and 1000 infantry. This probably helped the alarm. 
If we are not disturbed here it will be very singular indeed. 

"10 A.M. Exciting position. Two parties sent up river 
to himt the dragoons have not been heard from. Not a 
syllable from other side of river, but we see them building 
batteries right opposite us and planting guns to rake our 
camp. Our engineers are planning some works of defence. 
. . . Things are in a curious posture. General Worth was 
assured, day before yesterday, that our consul in Matamoras 
was at large and attending to his duties, though this is looked 
upon as an invading army. Is this war or peace? 

**I am still extremely weak; so much so that last night I 
was compelled to tell Captain Morris that, in case of attack, 
he must command the regiment; for, though in a clear field 
on horseback I might be able to do something, I could not 
possibly move about in the tincertainties of a night attack 
on foot. . . . And to-day I feel no stronger. This is a 
painful condition for me to be in, but I cannot help it. 

"12 M. 30th. As I have begun to note minutely I must 
go on. Dragoons have returned from reconnaissance of 
yesterday and report that General Canales came down river 

Hitchcock Severely 111 219 

last evening to within five miles of our camp. If there is 
truth in the statement of Colonel Carabahal both Canales 
and Mehia are in the plot to revolutionize the northern pro- 
vinces and throw off the government of Paredes and Mexico 
itself. . . . We hear that details of 200 men at a time are 
throwing up the batteries opposite, and that last night's 
party refused to work unless they were paid. The pay of 
the Mexican army is behind, and it would not now be pro- 
visioned but for the generosity of a rich citizen. It is poorly 
fed, too. Our mail has not arrived — may have been cut 
off. . . . General Taylor seems inclined to take Matamoras. 
Has sent for four 18 -pounders. They may reach here in five 

" I J P.M. Have just heard report that General Canales 
is on this side of the river within two or three miles with 
several himdred men on pretence of 'revolutionizing.' Cara- 
bahal told General Worth a few days ago (when in our camp) 
that they might be compelled to fire upon us to keep up a 
show of loyalty to their government! General Worth de- 
nounced him and told him that if they presumed to fire on 
us, we would hang them as traitors, and asked him if he sup- 
posed we would allow ourselves to be used for their private 

"2 P.M. Colonel Payne rode by my tent a moment since 
inquiring after my health ; says it is now reported that General 
Ampudia has been in Matamoras two days with his staff, 
but that his army of 3000 is several days in the rear. 

*' April I, A.M. General T. and Captain Bliss (Asst. Adjt.- 
Gen.) made me a long visit last evening after I had gone to 
bed — ^but I took to my bed immediately after tea. General 
Taylor says he does not believe Ampudia is in Matamoras. 
He says that Mehia answered his letter about the two captured 
dragoons — ^that the first part of the answer was a long inter- 
national argument against our right to come here; that our 
coming was an open act of war and could be regarded in no 
other light, and that General T. had no right to demand the 
two prisoners, but nevertheless, *to show the generosity 
of the Mex'n govt.,' he would send the two dragoons and 
their horses back. 

"Bliss laughed at the strain of the letter, though we all 

22 o Fifty Years in Camp and Field 

agreed that General Mehia is right in the character he gives 
to this movement. General Taylor, however, remarked that 
he had nothing to do with the international question and had 
* only to obey orders. ' . . . It is against the practice of our 
government to form foreign ' entangling alliances. ' Later. — 
The two dragoons were released and have arrived in camp. 

*' 2d Apr., A.M. The President of the United States has 
decided the brevet question on the basis of General Jackson's 
decision of 1829, and in accordance with our numerously 
signed memorial. The order was brought me and I read it 
aloud to all the officers, who, knowing that I wrote it, gath- 
ered rapidly around to rejoice and congratulate me. It is a 
signal triumph of justice: we of the line have gained our point 

** General Arista is reported on his way to Matamoras 
in the character of Pacificator. It is also reported that the 
Mexicans are throwing up additional ramparts to defend the 
town or to rake our camp. This morning General Taylor 
has begim throwing up what is described as a front of a forti- 
fication — ^two bastions and a curtain towards the town. There 
is a general impression that our camp is very much exposed, 
and all remark upon the perfect sang froid with which General 
T. sat down and continued here under the guns of Matamoras. 

" 5 P.M. Great activity over in town to-day. Bells ring- 
ing, bands playing, citizens hurrying hither and thither. 
Some think it is a Catholic gala day: some that more troops 
have arrived. . . . It is reported that brevet Brigadier- 
General Worth is so incensed at the order on brevet rank, 
that he has sent in his resignation and asked permission to 
leave the army. No one believes that he expects it to be 

**4th Apr. To note the multitude of camp rumors is 
getting to be fatiguing. It is now alleged that the Mexicans 
are to cross the river in force both above and below and quite 
surroimd and destroy us. And other stories are rife. 

** 2 P.M. I am still very weak. My bones ache as if I 
had overfatigued myself. Doctor Jarvis says it is the usual 
effect of fever in this climate. I told him I had had no fever. 
He then said it was probably debility, which is quite probable, 
as I have been sick for months. 

Hitchcock Severely 111 221 

" 5 P.M. A gun — ^another — ^two or three others — ^more 
and more — scattering. I on my bed. Could see the light 
infantry firing. Rose and looked out. Colonel Whistler 
rode up and said a deserter had been shot and killed while 
trying to swim the river. 

"5th Apr. Another deserter shot while swimming the 
river to-day. This is an unpleasant state of things. What 
glorious news it would be to hear that Mr. Slidell had been 
received in Mexico and was arranging a treaty of peace! 
I would be off instanter, as my health requires. It is a severe 
mortification, even a humiliation, not to be able to be at the 
head of my regiment. The train has come in safely from 
Frontone, fotir i8-poimders leading the way. 

*' 10 P.M. A spy just back from Matamoras reports 3500 
men now there, but miserably poor soldiers except the cavalry. 
He brags and says the 8th Infantry alone could take the town. 
He says that they have twenty or thirty pieces of ordnance, 
but old, and on old patched-up carriages. The heaviest is 
a 9-pounder. General Ampudia is expected to-morrow with 
3000 men. He says that four out of our six deserters the 
other night were drowned. The people of the town are 
greatly incensed against us for coming here." 

** 7th Apr. General Taylor made me a long visit this 
A.M. He told me General Worth is to leave here to-morrow. 
He added that, on tendering his resignation. General Worth 
had asked a leave of absence as soon as his services * could be 
dispensed with, ' but he determined to relieve Worth at once. 
So Worth leaves us while the very atmosphere is animated 
with rumors of attacks upon us, and he had just obtained 
from a spy of his own the most distinct threats from the other 
side of the river. I cannot help asking myself what would 
have been thought of the patriotism of a revolutionary officer 
who had abandoned his post in the presence of the enemy 
on an alleged grievance which, in the opinion of almost every- 
body, is without any proper or defensible foimdation. . 

**8th Apr. Return of weakness to-day. Dr. Jarvis is 
attending me. 12 m. Called on General Taylor this morn- 
ing and he expressed very clearly his opinion that I ought 
to go to the North for my health. He has intimated this 
once or twice before, and all my friends have urged the same 

2 22 Fifty Years in Camp and Field 

thing. I have concluded to ask the official opinion of Dr. 
Kennedy and Dr. Jarvis, and have written a note accordingly 
and have talked with Dr. Kennedy about it. He told me that 
he long since was of opinion that I ought to leave Corpus 
Christi, and reminded me that he had often spoken to me 
about it, but that I would not listen to it. Captain Larnard 
told me long since to go, and renewed the advice this morning 
when I shew him my note to Kennedy. Captain Barbour 
was equally strenuous yesterday in favor of my going; almost 
everybody who has seen me of late has given the same opinion 
and many have expressed astonishment at my reluctance 
to leaving the army. But I do not wish to be misconstrued. 

** loth Apr., 3 P.M. Have sent in my application for a 
two months' leave of absence on recommendation of both 
Drs. Jarvis and Kennedy. Colonel Twiggs called this morn- 
ing and expressed his surprise that I had not gone long ago, 
and particularly that I allowed myself to be ' dragged along 
through the country ' as I did — alluding to my leaving Corpus 
Christi with the army when sick and travelling a number of 
days in an ox- wagon. I go out with Colonel March, of St. Louis. 

** 4 P.M. The General has given the order for my leave 
of absence for sixty days. 

**Frontone (Point Isabel), April 12, a.m. I left General 
Taylor's camp at 10 a.m. yesterday and arrived here at 5 or 
6 P.M. Rode on horseback nine or ten miles, and then on a 
bed spread on the baggage wagon. Colonel Twiggs gave 
me an escort of his own accord, of ten dragoons. Was very 
much fatigued in the evening. All the officers here most 

** 13th Apr. Last night at 10 or 11 o'clock a dragoon 
express came from General Taylor bringing news that Am- 
pudia had arrived at Matamoras with 2000 additional soldiers 
picked up on the march, and has notified General Taylor that 
if he does not start to retire beyond the Nueces in 24 hours, 
the failure to do so will be considered a declaration of war. 
General T. answered that he had taken his position by order 
of the U. S. Government, not to make war upon Mexico or to 
injure its people — ^that he should maintain it and if fired 
on should return the fire. Ampudia withdrew his 24-hour 
threat and sent T.'s answer to Mexico." 



A HEAVY ** norther" raged for some days and the vessels 
pff the mouth of the Rio Grande found it impossible 
to put to sea. During this time Colonel Hitchcock 
was very uncomfortable, unable to get warm quarters afloat 
or ashore. He first tried the steamer Cincinnati; she did not 
leave. He transferred to the schooner William Bryant, and 
afterwards to the steamer Harney, but shortly after he got 
upon this steamer she was run into and smashed up by the 
steamer Monmouth and rendered **unsea worthy.'* He de- 
clared that he would experiment no more, however, and told 
the captain he would go with him to "the States" if he could 
patch up the craft so as to keep the water out. An attempt 
was made; she started again, and soon Brazos Island was out 
of sight and she was headed for New Orleans. Then came 
a renewal of the dreaded "norther," and the frail craft came 
near foundering in the Gulf. "The night was a terrific one. 
There was much fright among the women. Many were 
greatly excited and gave up all for lost." Two officers who 
were aboard acted in such a way as to increase the panic. 
"As for myself," writes the diarist next day, "I lay in my 
berth with perfect quietness, knowing that nothing that I 
could do or say could change our prospects in the least degree, 
and there, in my berth, through the whole night, knowing 
that the craft had been pronounced unsea worthy, I was 
thinking of death as a probability near at hand, asking myself 
from time to time how I should meet it ; but I could come to 
no other conclusion than that I would rather avoid it. " 


224 Fifty Years in Camp and Field 

** Monday, April 20, 6 a.m. Made the Southwest Pass 
light this morning. 

"New Orieans, 21st Apr. Reached the St. Charles Hotel 
at about half past 1 1 last night and was instantly surrounded 
by a dozen editors and reporters, eager for news. Have been 
giving them news ever since. 

"April 22. Have ordered sixteen boxes of books to St. 
Louis ahead of me. Have received from the translator a 
manuscript copy of Spinoza's Tractatus, 

"29th Apr. Old steamer Louisiana, above Natchez. 
Left New Orleans the 26th. Am reading Humboldt's Cos- 
mos. It is very fascinating and full of promise. Physically, 
I have alarming symptoms of a fistula. I fancy myself going 
to a Philadelphia surgeon on a horrible mission. Well, I had 
as soon die there as anywhere. About November last Dr. 
Kennedy and others urged me strongly to leave Corpus Christi 
and go north, but in the imsettled state of affairs with Mexico 
I was imwilling to leave the regiment that was imder my 
command. But I became useless to the regiment and the 

"St Louis, Mo., May 5. Arrived yesterday morning. 
Warmly welcomed by friends. Gave Dr. Beaumont a detailed 
accotmt of my twelve or more months of out-of-healthness. 

"nth May. There has been at last an actual conflict 
on the Rio Grande. Captain Thornton and Lieutenant Kane 
were sent out with fifty or sixty men. Both these officers 
were killed and the residue taken prisoners. Colonel Cross 
was also waylaid and murdered not far from our camp. 

"St. Louis, 20th May. Have just received the message 
of President Polk based on the capture of Thornton's party. 
It occupies two columns in a good-sized newspaper. The 
President gives a history (' his-story ') of our intercourse 
with Mexico for the last twenty years, in which he would 
make it appear that we have been the most injured, patient, 
and forbearing people in the world! Now that war exists, 
we must prosecute it with vigor, etc., etc. The President 
says, in effect, that, anticipating the acts of war that have 
now taken place, he some months since authorized General 
Taylor to call into his service volimteers, etc. Why did he 
anticipate such conduct? Ans. : Because he himself had 

Ordered North for Treatment 225 

provoked it by the most outrageous insults to Mexico — 
and not only insults but aggression. He ordered our troops 
a hundred and fifty miles beyond the proper botmdary of 
Texas into Mexican territory, and because the Mexicans 
presumed to send troops east of the Rio Grande, upon their 
own rightful soil, he says they are upon * our territory. ' We 
ought to be scourged for this! 

"Sunday, May 24. General Taylor has had two fights 1 
between Matamoras and Point Isabel, in which he lost some 
very valuable men, but successfully cleared the region of 
Mexicans, capturing their cannon, killing many, and taking 
many prisoners, among them General Vega. Our Major Ring- 
gold died of his wounds. It is said that Major Brown has 
also died of woimds received in defending our post opposite 
Matamoras. 2 

"I am necessarily losing, from a military point of view, 
all the honors of the field. I was hoping that no collision 
would take place. . . . My absence from my regiment at 
such a time as this is a species of death; yet the doctor 
says I must not think of going south in the hot weather, as 
he has another surgical operation to perform. If I go back 
before my constitution is renovated, the disease will return 
in an aggravated form, so that I shall be of no service, and 
shall only destroy myself. 

**St. Louis, Jime 5th. The newspapers announce the 
entrance of General Taylor into Matamoras and the complete 
dispersion of the Mexican army from that point. ... I 
wish I could describe the lovely quiet rustic scenery I have 
viewed to-day. What a beautiful world for man to disturb 
by unjust wars and commotions! 

** June 12. Colonel Kearney, ist Dragoons, now preparing 
an expedition against Santa F6, has written and offered me 
the appointment of inspector-general of his army. I have 
thanked him but told him I am not in health and had applied 
for other service in anticipation of returning health. 

**July 7. I am leaving to-day for Buffalo via Chicago. 
. . . July 10. Left Chicago at 8 a.m., having come there 

» The battle-field has since been known as Palo Alto and Resaca de la 

2 Fort Brown, the site of the present town of Brownsville. 


226 Fifty Years in Camp and Field 

in a stage from Peru, 90 or 100 miles in 22 hours, riding all 
night. There are no established farms with orchards, etc. 
The canal from Chicago to Peru is in progress and is expected 
to be finished in a year. Chicago contains, they say, 15,000 
inhabitants, and is growing. We are on a steamer on Lake 

"Niagara Falls, July 16. . . . No description to be at- 
tempted by me." 

During the summer Colonel Hitchcock obtained a prolon- 
gation of his leave and travelled through Eastern communities 
where he formerly lived or sojourned. He visited New Eng- 
land; he went to church (Unitarian) and speculated on the 
Whence, Why, and Whither at Boston. He spent a few days 
in Washington; was in the hands of a surgical specialist at 
Philadelphia; read Strauss 's Vie de Jesus, Swedenborg's 
Principia, the Biography of Benvenuto Cellini , Chubb 's Vica- 
rious Suffering, and always Goethe and Spinoza. He bought 
books and more books; he studied the catalogues of rare old 
tomes for sale in London and sent for many; he wrote in his 
diary, **If even the Doomsday Book recorded miracles, it 
might reasonably be rejected"; and in all his readings he 
sought for the origin of phenomena and the elucidation of the 

** I have just been thinking of my departure from Boston — 
winter of 1823-4 — ^and how the mode of travelling has changed 
since the introduction of railroads. Then it was usual for 
the stage-driver to go around the city at 3 o'clock in the morn- 
ing and wake up passengers, directed to their residences by 
the register at the stage-office where each passenger engaged 
his seat and paid his fare the day before. At 3 the passenger 
was aroused, got up, and dressed and waited for the stage 
at 4. Frequently nine passengers would ride three or four 
hours in perfect silence in the dark before the coming dawn 
would allow a vision of each others' faces. Then came the 
scrutinizing glance — an anxious moment, for they were per- 
haps to ride together all day. 

**i7th Sept. Steaming down the Ohio. I am familiar 
with the route and can read. Have got hold of Tertullian. 
Have bought the first ten volumes of Swendeborg*s Heavenly 
Arcanum, Have now the most of his works.** 

Surgical Operations in St. Louis 227 

'* 28th Sept. We reach the Mississippi after eleven days 
on the Ohio! 

**St. Loiiis, 6th Oct. Went to Jefferson Barracks on the 
3d; came home in the rain and had a violent attack. Dr. 
Beaumont attended me. To-day I am better, but the Doctor 
says I ought not to think of going South at this season of the 
year in this state. I am losing everything valuable in my 
profession, but cannot help it." 

'* 13th Oct. Still here at St. Louis, but hope soon to be 
off to the Southern army. 

The 15th of October was a day of mingled emotions 
for Colonel Hitchcock, sadness predominating. He received 
the news of the capture of Monterey by General Tay- 
lor, but it was clouded by the death of many of the officers 
of his own 3d Infantry. Major Barbour, Captain Field, 
Lieutenant Hazlitt, Captain Morris, the commander of 
the regiment, and, most trying of all, Lieutenant Douglas 
Irwin, its adjutant, and the husband of the daughter of Dr. 
Beaumont, under whose roof Colonel Hitchcock was a guest. 
His was the melancholy duty to break the news to the 

*' 2d Nov. Have just read Lewes's History of Philosophy 
(4 volumes), in which he introduces Kant's positive philosophy. 
He says there can be no such thing as a science of ontology — 
a knowledge of the absolute. 

*'3d Nov. About the 13th ult. I applied officially to the 
Adjutant-General at Washington to have all the recruits 
for the 3d Infantry sent here and placed under my orders, 
so that I might give them as much preparatory instruction 
as possible and hasten them on to General Taylor. My re- 
quest is refused. This is an outrage on me. I shall inquire 
into it. . . . I am now to make my preparations for going 
back to the army, and, as I shall leave this note-book behind 
me and may never see it again, I feel as if I ought to record 
my last wishes — or will and testatment, as they say. A short 
horse is soon curried." 

Colonel Hitchcock occupies several of the immediately 
succeeding pages of his diary with an expression of his wishes 
as to the disposition of his property, especially his books and 
papers, **in case of accident." He disparages the importance 

228 Fifty Years in Camp and Field 

of his own manuscripts and says that he made his diary for 
his own use and convenience. 

** loth Nov. I am very much disgusted with this war in 
all of its features. I am in the position of the preacher who 
read Strauss's criticism of the Gospel History of Christ. Shall 
he preach his new convictions? Shall he preach what his 
audience believe? Shall he temporize? Shall he resign? 
Here the preacher has an advantage over the soldier, for, 
while the latter may be ordered into an unjust and unneces- 
sary war, he cannot at that time abandon his profession — 
at all events, not without making himself a martyr. In the 
present case, I not only think this Mexican war unnecessary 
and unjust as regards Mexico, but I also think it not only 
hostile to the principles of our own government — a govern- 
ment of the people, securing to them liberty — but I think it 
a step and a great step towards a dissolution of our Union. 
And I doubt not that a dissolution of the Union will bring 
on wars between the separated parts. 

"Tuesday night, 12 p.m., the 17th Nov., 1846. Probably 
the last night I shall pass at Dr. Beaumont's house, for I 
have taken passage on the Algoma for New Orleans and the 
army in Mexico, and am to start to-morrow morning. If I 
were to thank God for anything, it would be for the friend- 
ship of this family, and for its imlimited kindness and con- 
fidence — ^not for a brief period but for many years — and for 
the feeling that I have endeavored to deserve it. 

** New Orleans, Dec. 15, 1846. High time to use my note- 
book. Left St. Louis on 21st, and got here the 31st. With 
other officers have since waited for a steamer to take us to 
the Brazos at St. lago in western Texas. Report is fully con- 
firmed that General Scott will take the conduct of the war, 
and it is considered settled that the castle of San Juan at 
Vera Cruz is to be assailed. My regiment is with Taylor at 

**My feeling towards the war is no better than at first. 
I still feel that it was unnecessarily brought on by President 
Polk, and, notwithstanding his disclaimers, I believe he 
expressly aimed to get possession of California and New 
Mexico, which I see, by his message received here to-day, 
he considers accomplished. Now, however, as the war is 

Returns South with Cool Weather 229 

going on, it must, as almost everybody supposes, be carried 
on by us aggressively, and in this I must be an instrument. 
I certainly do not feel properly for such a duty, particularly 
as I see that my health is almost sure to fail me — ^not only 
from the nature of the disease with which I left the country 
in April last, but because I know the remains of that disease 
are still with me. I feel very much like making a sacrifice 
of myself and drawing the curtain between me and this life. 
I am convinced that no contingency connected with this 
war can affect that in me which, by its nature, is immortal, 
and the end must be the same be my passage to it what it 
may. As a matter of taste and choice, I should prefer a 
more quiet career, and one in which I could pursue my favorite 
studies, of philosophy. But this is not to be. " 



IN such a state of health and with such meditations Colonel 
Hitchcock resolved to rejoin his regiment at once and 
to lead it as effectively as his impaired strength would 
permit. With this determination he took the first ship to 
Brazos Island. A week later General Winfield Scott made 
his appearance at New Orleans and also proceeded immedi- 
ately to Brazos, with many misgivings. 

General Scott says, in that remarkably candid book his 
Autobiography y that, before he embarked at New Orleans 
for Mexico, he was informed that the President intended to 
make Senator Thomas H. Benton a lieutenant-general and 
set him over his (Scott's) head; and, adding that this report 
was soon confirmed, and that "in the President I had an 
enemy more to be dreaded than Santa Anna and all his hosts, '' 
he thus sums up: **Mr. Polk's mode of viewing the case 
seems to been have this: * Scott is a Whig; therefore the 
Democracy is not bound to observe good faith with him. 
Scott is a Whig; therefore his successes may be turned to 
the prejudice of the Democratic party. We must profit by 
his military experience, and, if successful, by the force of 
patronage and other helps, contrive to crown Benton with 
the victory and thus triumph both in the field and at the 
polls.' This bungling treachery was planned during the 
precise period of my very friendly interview with Mr. Polk ! 


Something Like a Miracle has Happened 231 

. . . The vile intrigue disgusted Congress and was de- 

"Brazos Island, Dec. 25, and this is Christmas." 

During the next three days after making this note, Colonel 
Hitchcock tarried at the Brazos, getting his horses and baggage 
ashore, discussing the most practicable route to his regiment, 
lamenting his separation from it at this critical period, and 
discussing with other anxious officers reports that had come 
across country that Santa Anna was advancing on Saltillo 
with 23,000 men, that General Taylor's communications were 
completely cut off and General Worth surrounded. Every- 
body seemed to be in motion at the front. There was scarcely 
any defence for Americans along the river, and the country 
below Matamoras was overrun by Mexicans and unsafe for 
any small parties. Matamoras was held by one regiment of 
Ohio volunteers, and the great depot of stores at the Brazos 
was defended by only one company, without a piece of artil- 
lery. The road to Monterey was beset by Santa Anna's men, 
and no small party could get through. 

'* Dec. 28, A.M. Was much affected by weakness and debil- 
ity yesterday afternoon. Now much depressed. Am in a pain- 
ful position, separated from my regiment at such a time, and 
not only unable to join it, as I suppose the enemy occupy the 
communications, but, if the road was open, I do not feel that 
I have the strength to execute the journey of 300 miles by 
land from Matamoras. 

** 5 P.M. Well! Something like a miracle has happened be- 
tween General Scott and myself. This morning I was talking 
with the General's aid. Lieutenant Scott, when the General 
came up and, being joined by his aid, they mounted horses and 
rode away. I remained at the Q.M.'s office talking till pres- 
ently the General returned. Immediately after they dis- 
mounted. Lieutenant Scott came and, saying that he desired 
to speak with me, we stepped aside and he said: 

*' 'The General will be pleased to see you.' 

" 'What?' said I. 

" 'The General will be glad to see you,' he repeated; 
* he desired me to say so. ' 

" ' Indeed, ' said I, * you surprise me very much. Is is so?' 

"The aid reiterated the message, adding that the General 

232 Fifty Years in Camp and Field 

had seen a letter of mine to somebody, ' perhaps the Secretary 
of War, and was satisfied with my course of conduct. * I tried 
hard to recall any letter of mine touching the General, but 
cotild not. 

"The aid could not help me, but said at all events he could 
assure me that the General would like to see me, and had 
said that he appreciated my qualities (which is rather equi- 
vocal, as qualities may be either good or bad). It was not 
for me to hesitate, partictdarly as I wished to fall in with 
the General's escort, to leave here to-morrow. Accordingly 
I intimated my readiness to call on the General at once and 
did so. 

"The General arose and offered me his hand, asked me to 
be seated, and then made me a very complimentary speech, 
saying that, without intending to flatter me, he knew of no 
officer of my rank who was more needed or could do more 
good with the army than myself. He had before spoken of 
my bad health on leaving the army and expressed himself 
as happy to see me looking so well, etc., etc. I am not well 
at all to-day: the old trouble is upon me, but it may be 
temporary. If it continues I cannot and will not undertake 
a land journey. 

"The General asked me if I was ready to move forward. 

" 'Perfectly,' said I. 

" 'Got a horse?' 

" 'Two, General.' 

" 'Glad! Glad! You will join me to-morrow?* 

" ' With great pleasure. ' 

" 'Clever! Very clever! Right! Right! We start 

** *I will be ready. General.' 

*' So, then, here is a shake of the hand where I least expected 
it. Colonel Bell, when Secretary of War, once brought us to- 
gether at General Macomb's dinner-table and we were civil 
to each other for weeks. But Bell went out and Spencer 
came in, and the General found a place for a flare-up and did 
flare up in the highest sort of style. No matter ; it is proper 
now for me to allow him to take his own course." 

That Colonel Hitchcock should express great surprise at 
being thus greeted civilly and treated more than civilly by 

Reconciliation with Scott 233 

General Scott was to be expected. They had fallen out years 
before. Scott had good reason to believe that Hitchcock was 
cognizant of some of his personal matters which should have 
been kept entirely private. Scott had therefore prevented 
his appointment as Inspector-General in Washington, and had 
tried to drive him from the city. Hitchcock had defeated 
Scott in the matter of the Buell court-martial. They had a 
mistmderstanding over the Florida campaign. On being called 
to an important staff position by General Taylor, Hitchcock 
had been selected by nearly all of the officers of the *'Army 
of Occupation'* to write their protest against Scott's order 
concerning brevets, — a protest which caused that order to 
be rescinded by the President. Every time they had met or 
commimicated with each other, or spoken of each other, the 
gap that separated them had seemed to widen. And now 
the General had met him with a cordial " shake of the hand" 
and ''complimentary speech." It was a gracious attitude 
equally creditable to both. 

** Steamer Big Hatchet, Matamoras, Dec. 30. Crossed 
over from Brazos Island yesterday on horseback in General 
Scott's company (8 miles) to the mouth of the Rio Grande. 
Took a steamer then towards night and arrived here this 
morning (80 miles) . Saw Colonel Clarke, the Military Gover- 
nor of Matamoras, and heard General Scott question him 
about current rumors. The very atmosphere is filled with 
them, but no single fact seems well authenticated. The most 
moderate listeners seem to think that important events are 
being enacted at or near Monterey. The want of exact in- 
formation is the darkest feature of the business. Taylor's 
communications may be cut. No one knows where my regi- 
ment is or can indicate a way in which I can reach it, for 
everybody sees that my health is not equal to a long and 
exposed journey on horseback. General Scott has treated me 
as an invalid and advised as to my regimen with a view to 
my recovery. 

** Jan. I, 1847, finds me on board steamer Corvette ascending 
the Rio Grande above Matamoras, General Scott and staff 
being on board. We left yesterday morning. By one of the 
boats coming down from Comargo yesterday (300 miles above 
Matamoras) General Scott had a letter from General Worth, 

234 _ Fifty Years in Camp and Field 

dated Dec. 21. The troops south of Saltillo are believed to 
be General Santa Anna's army. 

''General Scott has been particularily civil to me and has 
explained at some length the orders which brought him here 
and the ulterior objects of his movement, which I do not 
feel at liberty to note here lest I might lose my book. He 
has talked quite familiarly of his interviews with President 
Polk — what Mr. P. said, what he said, etc. 

** 4th Jan., 1847. Descending the Rio G. on the Corvette, 
General Scott on board. We were at Comargo the principal 
part of yesterday. It is one of the most miserable places I 
ever saw, dirty and dilapidated and but little better than a 
Seminole village. General S. wrote and sent off despatches 
for General Butler at Monterey and for General Taylor, who is 
on the march to Victoria, two himdred miles further south. 
General Scott shew me both despatches. He directs General 
Butler to abandon Saltillo and, occupying Monterey only for 
defence, to place certain disposable troops under command of 
General Worth with orders to proceed to Brazos. The dispos- 
able troops imder General Taylor are ordered to Tampico, 
also on the coast. General Scott, in his commimications 
marked 'private and confidential,' points to operations of 
his own in contemplation south of Tampico. He says, at 
the close of his letter to General Taylor, that Providence may 
defeat him, but he thinks the Mexican can not. 

"The people along the banks of the Rio Grande live very 
much as Indians in mud huts and look not unlike them in 
complexion, hair, and eyes. They bring wood for our steam- 
boat, the captain giving orders at $2.50 a cord. 

"Mouth of Rio Grande, 9th Jan. Arrived here yesterday 
morning. Detained by a norther. General Scott and staff 
still on board the Corvette, but will go to the Brazos this a.m. 

" 13th Jan. On the 9th, when General Scott went to the 
Brazos, I rode by his side four miles, and he talked a long time 
to me, his aid and son-in-law, Lieut. H. L. Scott, being in 
hearing. He began by saying that he had not yet had a special 
conversation with me as he had intended, and then went on 
intimating that he might need to call on me to act as his 
Inspector-General. He added that it was infinitely impor- 
tant that I should command a full battalion. ... I would 


Appointment as Inspector-General 235 

much rather be studying Swedenborg than be an instrument 
in carrying on this abominable war against Mexico. . . . 
My illness has returned upon me. 

** 1 8th Jan. I rode over to Brazos yesterday and 
dined with General Scott, finding him very gracious. It 
was 'my dear Colonel' as I took leave to return to the 
mouth of the river. He expects me to remain here for the 

"23d Jan. The Corvette has arrived down, with General 
Worth and the 4th Infantry — ^heroes of Monterey, captured 
Sept. 26. Talked with Larnard till midnight. I suggested 
Palo Alto Landing for the camp, and it was there established. 
General Worth invited me to make his camp my stopping- 
place. I thanked him, but am making my quarters in an old 
hulk on the river." 

This very week Colonel Hitchcock was ordered on court- 
martial, and here was fated again to come face to face with 
General Scott, insisting with success that the judge-advocate 
should "require" the commanding general to produce before 
the court a document which he had declined to furnish. Gen- 
eral Scott must by this time have been convinced that this 
man would make a fearless staff officer ! 

*' 28th Jan. Philosophy seems to be forgotten, yet it is 
not out of mind. I think of more than I note, but I chiefly 
feel how perfectly in contrast with my position are my wishes. 
I despise, abhor, the authors of this war^ and yet am compelled 
to be employed in it. There is no sign of peace, and everything 
indicates an attack on Vera Cruz and the castle of San Juan 
d'Ulloa. The newspapers just received contain numerous 
accounts of preparations, ordnance, boats, etc. While I feel 
this contrast, I have, at the same time, some of the clearest 
views of Spinoza's doctrine I ever had." 

» Gen. U. S. Grant, who was also present throughout this war, recorded 
his opinion of it many years later in his Memoirs, thus : 

"For myself I was bitterly opposed to the policy toward Mexico, and to 
this day regard the war which resulted as one of the most unjust ever waged 
by a stronger against a weaker nation. It was an instance of a republic 
following the bad example of European monarchies, in not considering jus- 
tice in their desire to acquire additional territory. . . . The Southern re- 
bellion was largely the outgrowth of the Mexican war. Nations, like individuals, 
are punished for their transgressions. " 

236 Fifty Years in Camp and Field 

" ist Feb. The court-martial of Colonel Harney ended to- 
day. As usual I wrote the opinion of the court, that Harney 
be reprimanded in general orders for disobedience amounting 
to insubordination. 

" 5th Feb. Was told to-day at Brazos by General Scott 
to consider myself his Inspector-General. Order to be issued 
and printed in Tampico. The General told me to do whatever 
I thought proper as Inspector-General and use his name as 

General Scott was evidently no narrow-minded man. He 
showed himself capable of modifying his conclusions and of 
overcoming his resentments. Moreover, he was in a peculiar 
if not an embarrassing position. He had at first, with an 
amount of heat quite unnecessary if not unbecoming, declined 
the command of the army in Mexico, and afterwards had 
sought and obtained it by virtually retracting what he had 
said. He knew that the most skilful engineers in the country 
were the graduates of the Military Academy at West Point, 
and that neither he nor one of the generals on whom he must 
depend had ever had the advantage of a training at that 
institution: neither Taylor, Worth, Twiggs, Pillow, Wool, 
Butler, Quitman, Cadwalader, P. F. Smith, Gushing, Patter- 
son, Shields, or Pierce. He must get some West Point men. 
Here was one celebrated for being a strict disciplinarian and 
clear-headed master of evolutions — one saturated with book- 
lore to whom an illy-schooled commander-in-chief might at 
any moment turn for information, as to an encyclopaedia. 
For years he had been Commandant of Cadets at West Point 
and Instructor in Tactics. He was exemplary, extremely 
methodical, and even punctilious — well adapted to the difficult 
service of co-ordinating the brigades of a command and keep- 
ing a military household in order. He was highly educated 
and wrote with such force, facility, and elegance that he had 
come to be called "The Pen of the Army." Should General 
Scott sink his personal pride in this matter as he had in the 
other, and put this accomplished soldier and scholar at the 
bead of his staff, where he could at any moment have the use 
of his sword and pen ? He would and he did. 

" 17th Feb. Steamship Massachusetts half way from Bra- 
zos to Tampico. General Scott and staff and four companies 


At Anchor ofif Vera Cruz 237 

of artillery and many officers on board. We set sail from 
Brazos on the 1 5th. 

**Tampico, Mexico, 20th Feb. Landed yesterday. Town 
of 7000 some five or six miles up the river. Low fiat-roofed 
houses. Sail hence to Lobos Island,^ 130 miles north of Vera 

*' March 2, 1847. Left anchorage at Lobos at noon. 

'* March 4. On board Massachusetts, off Vera Cruz, about 
20 or 30 miles. Norther blowing. 

** March 5. Vera Cruz in sight. Anchored at Anton Liz- 
ards about noon. . . . General Scott with Generals Patter- 
son, Pillow, and Worth and their respective staffs, all went 
on board the steamer Champion to run along the coast and 
* look at it. ' Passed around Sacrificio Island and within about 
a mile and a half of the castle. As we turned the point of 
the long reef on which the castle stands. Colonel Totten, look- 
ing with his glass, said he thought they were * manning their 
batteries.' Col. P. F. Smith looked and said, 'They are using 
their sponges: we shall have a shot presently.' Sure enough! 
A small white cloud told us that we had become an object 
of interest to them. It was a shell and fell short. Another 
fell short. Another burst high in air, the pieces scattering 
and threatening us. The fourth passed directly over us and 
fell in the water a hundred yards beyond. We were in a 
ridiculous position. Commodore Connor had stopped the 
boat and we were in danger with no adequate object, without 
means of defence, with all of our officers of rank on board. 
If a chance shot had struck our engine we should have cut 
a pretty figure! 

» While at Lobos the diarist received a playful-serious letter from Theo- 
dore Parker on the resemblance between Spinoza and Swedenborg. After 
premising that "they both make the world a sort of Dutch clock," he ap- 
proves of the kind of pantheism which they and "E. A. H." had found and 
cherished. Another letter from Mr. Parker is on Alchemy. In replying to 
the same correspondent Feb. 27th, Colonel Hitchcock says: **I coincide with 
you in your views of this abominable war. Humble as I am, I wish not to 
fall a victim to this war without entering my protest against it as unjust 
on our part and needlessly and wickedly brought about. I am here, not 
from choice, but because, being in this army, it is my duty to obey the 
constituted authorities. As an individual I condemn, I abominate this 
war: as a member of the government I must go with it until our authori- 
ties are brought back to a sense of justice. " 

23^ Fifty Years in Camp and Field 

"Anton Lizards (anchorage off Vera Cruz), March 8, by 
candle-light in the morning. From Tampico we came back 
to Lobos Island, one third of the way down, and remained 
there from 21st Feb. to 2d March, when we came here. The 
fleet with troops and supplies had increased at Lobos to about 
60, and now reaches about 80 vessels. Only two thirds of 
the force up. We are now rimning up to Sacrificio Island, 
three miles south of Vera Cruz, where a landing is to be at- 
tempted to-day by order of General Scott. He is impatient 
to get ashore. As an accident may happen to me, I note that 
I owe my servant $36 to the ist inst. " 

This morning candle-light chronicle is long and elaborate. 
Colonel Hitchcock repeats injunctions concerning his property 
and the care of his brother's family. He passes his favorite 
books in affectionate review, expressing his special gratitude 
to his brother Samuel for translating Spinoza, the first transla- 
tion of the works of the mystical Dutch philosopher ever 
made in English. And after declaring that he Is satisfied 
with his opinions on religion he closes and carefully affixes 
his name. 



IN these early March days the diary is filled with evidences 
of activity and anxiety, of thoughtful prophecy and 
deliberate haste, of comment on things laid aside to 
remain with the fleet, and on things packed up for the difficult 
invasion of the coimtry. 

** loth March, a.m. Clear fine day, warm and still. The 
castle and city in view from our anchorage. Our troops made 
their first landing last evening about 5 o'clock. Some 3000 
went ashore in boats under the immediate orders of General 

** Not a gun fired! 

** In the course of the night nearly the whole of the second 
and third lines were landed. It was very exciting. Reports 
of a battery on shore to oppose us had been received yester- 
day. What reception the troops would meet with was doubtful 
up to the moment of landing. The New Orleans came up 
from Anton Lizards with 700 men of General Quitman's bri- 
gade on board. There are forty-five vessels with troops at 
Anton Lizards. 

** 13th March, p.m. The General and staff landed on the 
loth towards evening, and on reaching the shore heard sundry 
particulars of skirmishes of no importance the night the first 
troops landed. On the loth and nth our troops extended 
the line of investment about five miles, in doing which they 
drove small parties of the enemy from valley and hill, killing 


240 Fifty Years in Camp and Field 

several, and losing two. Yesterday we had a severe ' norther, * 
during which I rode on horseback to the right of the third 
line, — General Twiggs's. It was the most severe ride I ever 
performed, on accoimt of the terrible violence with which 
the sand was blown. Some of the sand-hills are 300 feet above 
the sea, two or two and a half miles from the city. To-day 
our line is finished from sea to sea arotmd the city, ^ cutting 
off all commimication with the country. We also turned off 
the water of the aqueduct which supplies the principal water 
used in the city. 

" 14th March. Yesterday some of the heavy gims and 
mortars were landed. Work goes on slowly. The General 
has given me charge of the provost guard and the examination 
of all suspected persons brought in. I have had several in 

**i5th March. The norther has finally died out, but a 
heavy surf rolls on the beach and we may not be able to do 
much to-day. Only two mortars landed as yet. Slow work. 
Coimtry completely cut off from city. All roads strongly 
guarded. A thousand Mexicans reported advancing from 
Jalapa. It might be good policy to let them in. 

*'p.M. Rode this a.m. from head-quarters (the right of our 
line of investment) to the left on the sea north of Vera Cruz. 
Preceded General Scott, but returned with him and staff. 
The road from Mexico comes in from the left of the line and is 
now strongly occupied by General Twiggs. Next to Twiggs in 
the line is General Quitman and then Generals Shields, Pillow 
and Worth — ^the latter on the extreme left. General Patterson 
commands a division of three brigades, the centre of the line. 
The line passes over sand-hills and through ravines and is 
very difficult to travel. But I am in better health. 

** News came that General Taylor had defeated Santa Anna 

» "From the first," writes Scott in his Autobiography, "my hope had 
been to capture the castle under the shelter of and through the city. This 
plan I never submitted to discussion. Several generals and colonels solicited 
the privilege of leading storming parties. The applicants were thanked 
and applauded — ^nothing more. In my little cabinet, however, consisting 
of Col. Totten, Chief Engineer, Lieut. -Col. Hitchcock, acting Inspector- 
General, Capt. R. E. Lee, Engineer, and First Lieutenant Henry L. Scott, 
acting Adjutant-General, I entered fully into the question of storming 
parties and regular siege approaches. " 



Forty-Five Vessels in the Ofifing 241 

Feb. 23, at Buena Vista, as we anticipated, judging from 
Santa Anna's own report that he had ' transferred ' his army. 
General T. lost 700 in killed and wounded. Santa Anna's loss, 
4000. T. had only about 6000; Santa Anna nearly 17,000. 

** 1 6th. Before Vera Cruz. Cold, rainy day. Wind still 
from north but not strong. Surf high. No business. Occa- 
sional guns, as usual, from city and castle. Yesterday two 
shells came near head- quarters. One passed over and burst 
in sand-bank. Lieut. George B. McClellan came in this evening 
with a working party. His clothes were very much torn, 
and he said laughing that the Mexicans had been firing at 
his party nearly all day without hitting a man. . . . There 
has been considerable musketry firing. 

"17th. I rode yesterday seven miles along the line to 
General Twiggs's quarters. The path has been considerably 
opened, but as yet blind and difficult in places. The Orizaba 
road is the least effectively defended part of the line and I 
requested General Patterson to strengthen it. He ordered 
Major Abercrombie at it at once. I also turned back two 
6 -pounders going to Twiggs — more needed elsewhere. 

** Everybody is anxious to hear the guns of our heavy 
artillery against the walls of the city, but each wishes a breach 
opposite his own troops in the line. More mortars landed 
yesterday — some say all our mortars (ten) are on shore. 
We have two (or four) 24-pounder battering pieces with two 
(or four) 8 -inch howitzers. Vessels with others have not 

** 1 8th. Rode again to the left of the line and back — • 
14 miles in all. Want of provision and impatience of delay 
are prominent. General Twiggs particularly uncomfortable — • 
very complaining, but has a bad cold. Visited advanced 
picket, three quarters of a mile from city — had a fine view. 

*'I recommended to the General to-day the seizure of all 
the boats at Antiqua, and further that one or two well manned 
boats from the navy should be stationed at General Twiggs's 
head-quarters (on the beach north of Vera Cruz) to intercept 
boats to and from the city. 

** 19th. A funny scene occurred last evening that would 
require a Dickens or a Lever to describe. The General called 
for his letter-book to show me a letter from himself to 

242 Fifty Years in Camp and Field 

Commodore Connor. * It had been copied by an interpreter, 
'Colonel' Edmonson. An error was discovered, and the Gen- 
eral broke out: 'Colonel Edmonson! Colonel Edmonson!* (in 
rapid succession) 'did you copy this?' 

" 'Yes, sir.' 

" 'My dear Colonel! That is not right; that interlinea- 
tion should be there' (pointing with his finger) *and not 
there, don't you see? The sense requires it. I never wrote 
it so! It is not sense! You make me write nonsense! You 
will kill me! I '11 commit suicide, if you don't follow me. 
Follow mey no matter where I go — follow me, if out of a third- 
story window. I '11 commit suicide if you don't! I pledge 
you my honor I will! I '11 not survive it. What? Send 
that nonsense to the government? My dear Colonel! Don't 
you attempt to correct me! And here again — over here — 
there should be a period and not a semicolon. The capital 
letter shows it. How could you make it a semicolon? Cor- 
rect that on your life. ' 

" ' I '11 correct it immediately!* exclaims the Colonel. 

" 'And there you 've left a space at the beginning of the 
line! That shows a new sentence; but there was none — 
it was all one sentence in the original! Never leave a space 
at the beginning of a line except when beginning a new sen- 
tence. There! You 've put a "g" in Colonel Hardin's name 
— I '11 bet a thousand — ten thousand dollars to one farthing 
there was no "g" in the original. I '11 agree to be shot to- 
morrow morning if I put a "g" in the original. Follow me — 
follow me, if out of a third story-window. I '11 kill myself 
if you don't! I '11 kill six others and then kill myself! I '11 
not survive it. I *11 die before I send such a copy to the govern- 
ment! What would be said of me? That I write nonsense 
and don't know how to spell Colonel Hardin's name! Hardin 
— d-i-n — ^there is no "g" in it, and never was! No matter 
how strange the spelling — follow me\ Don't you attempt to 
correct my spelling!' 

"This is about a fourth part of what he said of the same 
sort, and, what made it more funny, it was when time pressed ; 
important orders were in progress to open the trenches. 
The work has now begim. 

1 Commander of the American squadron in the Gulf. 

Investment of the City 243 

**The sun is out, and it is calm. The ten mortars were 
on shore yesterday and two 8-inch howitzers. The four, 
24-poimders will be landed to-day. 

" 20th March. Yesterday an exciting day. Our working 
parties had broke ground the night before within 600 yards 
of the wall of the city, and had so covered themselves as to 
be able to work all day yesterday. The guns of the city were 
directed towards them and kept up a constant firing — 400 
discharges some idle fellow counted yesterday. They were 
shells and round shot, yet so completely were our parties 
covered, under the judicious arrangements of the engineers 
who laid out the work, that not a single man was hit. 

"Capt. R. E. Lee,i one of the engineers, and an admirable 
officer, had a narrow escape with his life yesterday. Returning 
from a working party with Lieut. P. T. Beauregard, he turned 
a point in the path in the bushes, and suddenly came upon 
one of our soldiers who no doubt mistook him for a Mexican 
and the soldier challenged * Who comes there?' * Friends! ' said 
Captain Lee. 'Ofificers,' said Beauregard at the same time, 
but the soldier, in trepidation and haste, levelled a pistol at 
Lee and fired. The ball passed between his left arm and 
body, — the flame singeing his coat, he was so near. The Gen- 
eral was very angry, and would not listen to Lee's intercession 
in behalf of the man. 

*'Last evening some stir was made by scattering musket 
shots fired from outside of our lines, just to annoy us. 

**2ist March. Rode to left of the line yesterday. News 
has come of proceedings of Congress. Colonels Benton and 
Gumming are appointed major-generals, and Cadwalader, 
Hopping, and Pierce brigadiers! The three-million bill for 
making peace with Mexico has passed. Have sent a brief of 
the news to the left of the line. . . . Another norther on; 240 
heavy guns yesterday upon one of our working parties produced 
no effect. General Scott feels the course of Mr. Polk in re- 
lation to Colonel Benton and himself, and he has a right to. 2 

» General Scott attributed the fall of Vera Cruz to the skill and activity 
of Captain Lee. 

» It was understood that the President did not like to have two Whigs, 
like Taylor and Scott, in command in Mexico, and that he would take advan- 
tage of the slightest failure of any sort to appoint Benton in command of 
the army to supersede Scott. 

244 Fifty Years in Camp and Field 

** 2 2d March a.m. The sun shines brightly but is destined 
to be obscured by the vomiting forth of our mortar batteries 
upon what General Scott calls in his prepared summons 
the 'beautiful' city of Vera Cruz. Our heavy guns are not 
in position, but they will be ready in the coming twenty-four 
hours. We have ten lo-inch mortar batteries in place for 
bombarding the city, and the General intends, I believe, to 
send this morning a summons to the governor to surrender. 
He will decline, and the mortars will open. We have been 
thirteen days before the city without firing a gun upon it. 
Our troops had some little skirmishing in extending themselves 
around the city, and one or two very trifling skirmishes since 
with small reconnoitring parties. The city, however, has 
belched forth its sulphurous contents in almost continual 
discharges of heavy mortars and paixhans. During the last 
three days they have been constantly firing at our working 
parties in the trenches, which have been within 600 yards 
of the city walls, but they have not touched a single man in 
the trenches and only one out of them. One man was killed 
yesterday by a stone knocked off the wall of the cemetery 
by a heavy ball. During last night, while our people were 
hauling mortars into place, a fire was kept up from the city, 
the effect of which has not been reported. 

**The morning finds everything remarkably quiet — one 
of those mild, calm, sweet summer mornings that incline 
a contemplative man to religious reflection. One is disposed 
to feel thankful for mere existence. I am not well, however, — 
had a fever yesterday. 

** 4 P.M. I am seated on a sand-hill on the shore, between 
Sacrificios anchorage (full of ships) and the city, which, 
like the castle, is in sight. The U. S. ship Ohio (74) arrived 
to-day and is now firing a salute at anchor near Green Island. 
General Scott is mounted, and, accompanied by Surgeon-Gen- 
eral Lawson, is waiting an answer to his summons to the city 
to surrender. The scene is impressive. 

"6.30 P.M., at my tent. As I sat on the sand-hill I saw 
the bearer of the flag return and deliver a letter to the General. 
The interpreter read it and the General and party rode from 
the beach to camp. I followed on foot, but soon heard guns 
from the city which assured me of the nature of the answer. 


Terrors of the Bombardment 245 

As I entered the camp I heard, more explicitly, that the answer 
was, as expected, a refusal to surrender. I then went to the 
top of a high sand-hill where a number of officers had assem- 
bled, and, in some half an hour, saw the white cloud of one of 
our mortars. Six were fired in rapid succession, and then 
the roar of guns continued and continues from our batteries, 
the city, and the castle. Seven gunboats have hauled up 
near enough and are delivering, from one heavy gun each, 
their shot into the city under fire of the castle. 

** As I stood on the sand-hill and saw the artillery belching 
forth its lightning, I could not but feel how very absurd is 
the whole tragical farce of war! 

"Before Vera Cruz, March 23, a.m. Saw the firing till 
near midnight, and again this morning at daylight. Our 
mortars fired all night, but the gunboats drew ofi and then 
the castle and the city ceased firing. This a.m. the firing 
has been very heavy until our gunboats withdrew. Captain 
John R. Vinton was killed by a 3 2 -pound shot at our 
mortar battery. ^ Vinton was a classmate of mine at the 
Military Academy. He was a man of considerable talent and 
stood high in the army and was very much respected in private 
life. Was a warm advocate of Polk's policy. 

*'p.M. A heavy norther. Surf high and may prevent 
the landing of shells, of which our ten mortars are in need. 
The ship Charles arrived yesterday, with 18 additional mor- 
tars. ... A few men wounded. . . . Last evening we 
had a stampede, on a report that 2000 men were about to 
attack our right. A small fuss. I would neither order my 
horse saddled nor buckled on my sword, so sure that it was 
a ridiculously false alarm. 

**Camp Washington, Before Vera Cruz, March 25, a.m. 
Three 32s and three 8-in. paixhans from the navy, under 
direction of naval officers and men, were landed and opened 
upon the batteries of the city yesterday about 10 a.m\, and 
continued firing till about 4, when they exhausted their am- 
munition. The whole fire of the city was drawn upon the 
battery, which was constructed by Captain Lee of the engineers. 
Five men have been killed there, but it has the honor of having 

» "In seige of Vera Cruz, killed by wind of a shell," says the Military 

246 Fifty Years in Camp and Field 

cut down the Mexican flag and twice silenced a heavy battery 
known as the * Red fort. ' 

** Commodore Perry — a. brother of the Lake Erie hero — 
has reHeved Commodore Connor. His naval battery is doing 
great work. 

" 26th. Very severe norther. Sand flies horribly. There 
have been two skirmishes with small bodies of Mexicans back 
of (outside of) our line of circumvallation. Several killed 
and wounded. . . . Parties are hanging on our rear. Gen- 
eral La Vega is only a few miles distant, with several thou- 
sand men, 't is said. 

*' I P.M. Early this morning a white flag was sent from the 
city with a communication. I was sent to see the bearer of 
the flag. He told me it was from General Landero, the second 
in command. I asked if General Landero was authorized to 
make any proposition and received the assurance that he 
was, as the commandant, General Morales, was sick. I then 
accompanied him to head-quarters. Here he produced a 
letter from the foreign consuls in Vera Cruz asking General 
Scott to allow foreigners and women and children to leave 
the city. 

"General Scott answered that he could not allow any one 
to leave the city. As this was made known to the command- 
ant, his application, made this forenoon, for the appointment 
of three commissioners on each side, must be considered as an 
offer of surrender,! though it is made ostensibly to grow out 
of the letter of the consuls. Generals Worth and Pillow and 
Colonel Totten have been appointed to meet three Mexican 
commissioners. All firing has ceased. I was told by the 
flag-bearer this morning that the castle is subordinate to 
the city commander. We shall certainly have the city to-day 
or to-morrow ; as for the castle — we shall see. 

'* 27th. 12 M. The conference yesterday was not successful 
and the negotiation was in reality broken off. But our com- 
missioners received an offer of surrender from the Mexicans, 
which, they said, they would convey to our General, but not 
as commissioners. In the latter capacity their own proposi- 

» "In two days the sailors fired 1300 rounds, reducing the wall to rub- 
bish and making a breach fifty feet wide, enabling Scott's army to dictate 
terms and proceed to the interior. " — Appleton's Cyclo. Am. Biog. 

Surrender of Vera Cruz and Castle 247 

tion had been refused and they had no orders to receive our 
proposition. General Scott had required a surrender of arms, 
and that the Mexican private soldiers should be sent to the 
U. S. and the officers to go on parole. The Mexicans rejected 
these terms, but were willing to surrender the city and castle 
(tho' they doubted whether the castle commander would not 
set up for himself and hold out) the troops marching out with 
arms, drums, etc., as at Monterey. Our General refuses 
this, but would relax in the articles requiring the prisoners 
to be sent to the United States, and would leave the manner 
of delivering up arms to the commissioners. 

" The commissioners again assembled to-day about 11 a.m., 
and are now engaged in business. Nous verrons. 

** 12 P.M. It is midnight and the articles of capitulation 
are signed, and the United States forces are to occupy the 
city of Vera Cruz, the castle of San Juan d'Ulloa and depen- 
dencies the day after to-morrow. 

*'Camp Washington, before Vera Cruz, March 28, a.m. 
The sun has come out in splendor; it is mild, and very still. 
The city of Vera Cruz and the celebrated castle capitulated 
last evening and our troops are to occupy the same at 10 a.m. 
to-morrow. I shall never forget the horrible fire of our mor- 
tars . . . going with dreadful certainty and bursting with 
sepulchral tones often in the centre of private dwellings — 
it was awful. I shudder to think of it. 

"29th March, a.m. A very fine morning. As Inspector- 
General I am to receive this morning the parole from the 
prisoners of war after they march out of the city and stack 
arms. I have already one assistant and three others are 
ordered to report to me. 

'* Later. These Mexicans are the devil for rank. 'T is said 
there are here 5 generals, 18 colonels, 37 lieutenant-colonels, 
5 majors, 90 captains, 180 lieutenants. 

"Of these General Scott as an act of grace and policy 
grants freedom to i general, 2 colonels, 4 lieutenant-colonels, i 
major, 10 captains, and 20 lieutenants; and he intends to 
send them to Mexico to use a peace influence, if they will. 

*'Vera Cruz, 5 p.m. Our troops occupy to-day both the 
city and castle. The Mexican troops marched out at 10 a.m. 
and stacked arms. It became my duty, with several assis- 

248 Fifty Years in Camp and Field 

tants, to receive the paroles of the commanders of regiments 
and corps for themselves and their commands — also the 
generals and staff officers. The city is virtually in ruins. 
Some buildings were set afire and nothing remains but black- 
ened walls. Others are shattered and scattered in fragments- 
Street pavements are torn up from end to end. . . . Few 
remained except the poorest people and the soldiers — ^the 
latter as miserable-looking wretches as I ever laid my eyes 

** 31st March. Have moved my tent to the suburbs in 
preference to living in the city, which is very offensive and 
must soon be sickly. Stench intolerable in some quarters. 
Visited the * castle* to-day. There are about 250 guns in 
the city and at the castle ready for use, and over 100 dis- 
motmted, and a very large supply of ammunition." 



ON the I St of April, 1847, the victorious army of Gen- 
eral Scott began a week of well earned rest, meantime 
quietly putting itself in order for an advance towards 
the city of Mexico, via Jalapa northward. Colonel Hitchcock 
now took up systematically the study of Spanish, and he 
drew up and entered in his diary formidable vocabularies of 
words and phrases, with their English equivalents. This 
he seems to have continued with considerable persistence 
while the war progressed. It should be noted that the 
unfriendliness which had seemed to exist at times between the 
commander of the army and Colonel Hitchcock had entirely 
vanished, and had been followed by mutual confidence and 
a warm esteem. For the first time they became well ac- 
quainted. Cordiality and amity had been firmly established 
and continued to increase during life. 

'*9th Apr. General Twiggs with his division of regulars 
marched yesterday for Jalapa. To-day Pillow and Shields 
followed suit with two brigades of volunteers. Reports con- 
flicting. It is said that Santa Anna, defeated by General Tay- 
lor, returned to the city of Mexico with 4000 troops and has 
now reached Jalapa with 12,000 and is fortifying a very 
strong pass some forty miles from here. Others report an 
unknown force. General Scott is still here with Worth's divis- 
ion of regulars and Quitman's brigade of volunteers. S. lacks 
sufficient transportation for troops, but told me this morning 
that he would go forward himself if he heard of opposition 
at the pass. 


250 Fifty Years in Camp and Field 

" 10 A.M. Packing up a shirt to be off with General Scott 
to meet Santa Anna — a fight or a treaty. 

** 7 P.M. A dreadful scene at 5 p.m. — ^the hanging of a 
man for rape. 

*' 12th Apr. Letter from Twiggs, in advance. Anticipates 
opposition at the pass about noon to-day. Thinks he can 
overcome it. The General says he will move at twenty 
minutes' notice. I am ready. 

" Plan del Rio (Level of River), Apr. 15, 7 p.m. Raining. 
The Gen'l and a part of his staff, including myself, left Vera 
Cruz towards the evening of 12th and yesterday we arrived 
here, where Twiggs and Patterson had halted. The road — 
all the way very hot and dusty — here enters some remarkable 
passes in the mountains which are strongly occupied by Santa 
Anna with 12,000 to 18,000 men and a considerable number 
of pieces of artillery — not fewer than 25, many of them 16- 
potmders. Captain Lee has been out all day searching for a 
path or passes by which the forts on the heights can be turned. 
Reports not wholly favorable. We must take some time to 
study the grotmd here and devise a mode of attack. 

" 1 6th. J before i p.m. We hear firing in the direction 
of our reconnoitring parties. Only a few discharges of can- 
non. Ceased. 

** 9 P.M. Just returned to my tent from a long conference 
at the General's hut. Reconnoitring parties all present. 
Lee, Derby, and others have made the boldest examinations 
and have given us a great deal of information. Enemy very 
strong on main road. . . . But the plan to turn him seems 
plausible and a favorable result is highly probable. We shall 
wait a night for the arrival of General Worth with 1600 
picked men and a section of siege train — ^twelve 24-pounders 
and one 8-inch howitzer. 

" 17th, A.M. After conference last evening I came to my 
tent, made a brief note, and lay down. Was awakened by 
the sound of wagons, and, looking out, could distinguish a 
field battery passing along the road. General Twiggs spoke 
from his tent and told me that Worth had arrived. I am 
ordered to advance at 8 in the morning. There is great 
jealousy among the senior officers. General Patterson (sick) 
reports for duty at the last hour. General Shields claims some 

Victory of Cerro Gordo 251 

command in the advance. General Pillow, though assigned to 
lead the attack, intimates very plainly that he considers it 
a desperate undertaking. General Scott told him that the 
attack in the rear would distract the attention of the enemy 
and make an opening for him. General Pillow said he would 
go where ordered if he left his bones there, but asked the 
General to consider that two of his regiments were raw and 
without service. General Scott said that the regulars were 
very much 'diluted' with raw recruits, not so good as raw 
militia just from home. Saying something about discipline, 
General Scott insisted that the attack in front must be made. 

*' J before 12 M. Just returned to the * Level of the Road* 
from seeing Twiggs with his division at the place leading from 
the main road some three miles from here, by which it is hoped 
he may get into the rear of the enemy. At one point on the 
road the guns of one of the enemy's batteries seemed to look 
directly upon us within reach. They did not fire. I now 
hear firing — evidently from the enemy. Very important 
events must occur within the next twenty-four hours. 

'* 5 P.M. A good deal of cannon firing. General Twiggs 
has sent back to h'd-q'rs. three or four reports. The enemy 
has discovered his movement and is firing on him. Has driven 
the enemy. Wanted reinforcements. Sent him two or three 
regiments of Shields's brigade, so that he has 4000 or 5000, 
mostly regulars. Sent in one prisoner who says he ran away 
from the Mexicans — ' did n*t want to be shot. * 

**Plan del Rio, 9 p.m., i8th of April, 1847. We have had 
a most remarkable day. The stronghold of the Mexicans 
in the pass of Cerro Gordo has been assaulted and carried. 
Santa Anna commanded in person with many thousand troops 
and a large quantity of heavy artillery; but he has been 
utterly defeated and routed, and, though he himself escaped, 
his splendid carriage, his military chest with $25,000, his 
portfolio, five of his general officers, and about 3000 troops, 
4000 stand of arms, and forty odd cannon have fallen into 
our hands. It has certainly been one of the most extraordi- 
nary assaults ever made by any troops. We had about 
8000 men; the Mexicans not less than 12,000 and probably 
from 15,000 to 18,000. 

"The main road from Vera Cruz to Jalapa (pronounced 

252 Fifty Years in Camp and Field 

Halapa) enters at this place some mountain passes winding 
in such a manner that in several places artillery properly 
placed can sweep it for a great distance. Heavy guns were 
in position for this purpose and several (five, I believe) heights 
were occupied with artillery commanding the coimtry in every 
direction. The most distant hill occupied must be 500 to 
700 feet high and is of a sugar-loaf form. Some 1 500 Mexicans 
with small arms and several pieces of artillery crowned its 
summit. Its sides were completely cleared of obstructions 
and the Mexicans might well suppose it inaccessible to an en- 
emy. Our troops, however, passed up its precipitous sides, 
and, taking possession of its gims, turned them with terrible 
effect upon the enemy beyond and below. Santa Anna had 
his own tent near by and fled in haste towards Jalapa. The 
possession of this hill cut off all the troops in the several 
forts along the road and these all surrendered at discretion. 
General La Vega, taken by General Taylor at Resaca de la 
Palma last year, is again our prisoner. 

"The enemy thought it impossible to attack his rear and 
prepared his defences against an advance along the main 
road; and had 50,000 men attempted this, they must have 
been destroyed. With infinite labor we made a sort of road 
turning to the right from the main road in advance of the 
enemy's works and out of his sight, and, by carrying this 
road arotmd some two or three miles, we came in view of 
the rear conical hill, the highest and most commanding of all 
his defences. This hill was scaled by our troops and taken, 
when the labor of merely climbing it is alone sufficient to 
break down any but a tolerably strong man. 

**We left here (the General and his staff) about J after 
7 this morning, and were under fire about 9 o'clock. I do 
not remember the precise hour of carrying the hill, but think 
it was about J past 10 or perhaps 11 o'clock. The main height 
being carried, all of the other works fell as a matter of course. 
The scene was very striking. The country for many miles 
around was imposing and sublime. A horse was killed by a 
cannon shot about a rod from the General, but no other cas- 
ualties immediately near occurred. . . . The assault was 
made exclusively by regulars. ... In an assault troops 
must not halt. Their only safety is in advancing. . . . Our 

Immense Capture of Prisoners, Arms, etc. 253 

prisoners are brought here to be disposed of, while our ad- 
vance, in pursuit of the flying enemy, has gone on towards 

'* 20th April, A.M. General Scott and several of his staff, 
including myself, are at the beautiful hacienda of Santa 
Anna, about seven miles from (east of) Jalapa. Reached here 
last evening, after a ride of fifteen miles from the defile of 
Plan del Rio. This is a princely place. The coimtry is quite 
elevated and continues to rise to the west, with mountains 
in the distance. The buildings are of the soft limestone of 
this range. Santa Anna and his flying troops were pursued 
to this place, where General Twiggs remained the night after 
the battle, and yesterday our advance forces entered Jalapa. 
General Scott, after the battle, went back with his prisoners, 
about 3000, to Plan del Rio, where yesterday morning I re- 
ceived their paroles of honor not to serve till exchanged, and 
dismissed them. The General moimted near 2 p.m. and came 

" Santa Anna's property here was put tinder the protection 
of a guard by our advance and nothing has been injured. 
It is full of very rich prints hanging on the walls of nearly 
all the rooms; but ever5rthing is foreign — ^nothing shows the 
genius of the Mexicans — no works of art or evidences of sci- 
ence. A large chapel is in course of building near the palace. " 



IT will be noticed that this detailed and voluminous diary- 
makes very brief allusion to the professional duties of 
the writer of it. He is Scott *s Inspector-General, and, hav- 
ing stated that fact, Colonel Hitchcock seldom reverts to it. 
To the layman it may not mean much, but the military reader 
will imderstand that he was at the front, — one of the busiest 
men in the army and one of its most important functionaries. 
His duty was to see that the whole command was constantly 
ready for battle: that rifles were always in order; that bat- 
teries were always serviceable ; that tents were in repair; that 
animals were cared for; that camps were in sanitary location 
and condition. He often ordered brigades and divisions 
out for a sudden inspection of arms and accoutrements. 
He sometimes examined muskets and cartridge-boxes. His 
activity was incessant. His eye had to be on every regiment 
and company, — occasionally on every soldier. Unless he 
had performed conscientiously his complicated duties the 
command would have got out of order in a short time. His 
business was fearlessly to criticise everything and everybody 
and to report to the General-in-Chief. So, if he is not often 
mentioned in his account of these battles of Mexico it must 
be attributed in part to his modesty, which is sufficiently 
apparent in this diary, and in part to the fact that he is con- 
stantly busy with details as the man behind the machine 
that does the work. 

*' Jalapa (one third of the way to the capital), April 20, 
9 P.M. Since 9 this morning we have been in the city. It 


Proclamation to Mexicans 255 

is one of the most remarkable incidents of my life, consid- 
ered in connection with the fight day before yesterday. The 
Mexicans thought that success for us at Cerro Gordo was 
impossible. Their defeat is proportionally disheartening. The 
next pass, ten miles west of here, is said to be abandoned. 
Consternation has spread over the cotmtry. The Mexicans are 
confoimded — ^lost in wonder and despair. . . . Grass grows 
in many of the streets of Jalapa. . . . 

" Jalapa, Apr. 24. Yes; General Worth reports that the 
strong pass, ten miles ahead, is abandoned and the guns 
spiked. He broke the trimions from the guns and continued 
his march to Perote, where he arrived on the 2 2d at noon, 
and, strange to say, this, one of the strongholds of Mexico, was 
also abandoned. The enemy left an officer to turn over the 
public property and regular invoices were handed to General 
Worth. In this property, 54 cannon were delivered, mostly 
of small calibre but in good service order, the heavy guns hav- 
ing, we hear, been taken to the pass of Cerro Gordo. One 
24-pounder, captured, is inscribed 'The Terror of the North 
Americans. ' 

** Jalapa, May 5. General Scott has issued an order materi- 
ally changing his operations. Instead of going forward with 
the 3000 ' old voltmteers, ' he has concluded to discharge them 
at the end of the year of enlistment, which expires in about 
five weeks. Some will re-enter the service * for the war. ' 

"May 12. The Bishop of Puebla has sent a confidential 
agent, one Antonio Campos, to General Scott to procure a 
proclamation of a particular character which he offers to send 
to the city of Mexico to bring about peace. The General 
at first was timid about issuing a proclamation and hesitated 
to do so, and I thereupon drew up the annexed note to him, 
which, I verily believe, has had no little weight in inducing 
him to sign the proclamation. It has this morning been 
despatched by special courier to Puebla and will be in Mexico 
the day after to-morrow. The next day, the isth, there is 
to be an election of President by the Mexican Congress, and 
the bishop wishes this proclamation to be used to influence 
the election. All agree that Santa Anna must be put to 
death or at least driven out of the country before there can 
be a peace or any security even in an armistice.'* 

256 Fifty Years in Camp and Field 

The "annexed note" referred to, written to give General 
Scott some reason for signing the proclamation, is as follows : 

" Col. H. would remark that, as a movement has evidently 
commenced among the Mexicans themselves, it may be of 
the last importance to cultivate it by all complaisance con- 
sistent with principle; that those who have begun this 
movement will work with more zeal if indulged at first; that, 
if not checked at first, but encouraged, their interest in it 
will grow with the work itself, until they fully commit them- 
selves to the objects so important to us. If the clergy can be 
conciliated by a proclamation, it seems a small price for so 
great an advantage to let them please themselves by adapting 
it to their knowledge of their people. I would not consider 
it a product of the English language or regard it with American 
eyes in any other sense than to see that no fact is misstated 
and no principle violated. I am convinced that it will be 
foimd effective." 

**Jalapa, May 14. Only a part of the supply train has 
come : a part of the quartermaster's funds. The General will 
have to use money for the pay department. We must keep 
good our credit. . . . 

** 15th May. The General is much in the habit of assem- 
bling in the evening the heads of the general staff depart- 
ments around his supper-table about J past 8, and then talking 
of public business till 11 or 12 o'clock. If there be pressing 
occasion, he talks only of business, inquiring into supplies, 
health, etc., but occasionally he merely talks, absorbing the 
whole conversation — ^tells stories, etc. Last evening he talked 
till II o'clock, about business exclusively. The contents 
of the train made his subject. About J of what was expected 
has arrived. It is the general opinion that most of the paroled 
troops of Cerro Gordo are in front of us again, and are dis- 
puting General Worth's entrance into Puebla. We think that 
such troops as Santa Anna has cannot fight. They are mostly 
either paroled men or undisciplined and ignorant people, 
most likely pressed into the service. 

'*2 2d May. News direct from General Worth — a. private 
letter from him to General Scott dated 19th. Reports his en- 
trance into Puebla on the 15th. Santa Anna supposed to 
have gone into Mexico. Worth states that he obtained a copy 

At Puebla 257 

of the proclamation (suggested by Campos) and that his third 
edition of it is nearly exhausted, that his door is thronged 
with applicants for it, and that it had struck a heavier blow 
than any from Palo Alto to Cerro Gordo. I almost feel as 
if I had induced the General to put forth that proclamation. 

"p.m. General Twiggs's division has just started for Pue- 
bla. A Mexican officer on parole arrived to-day from Puebla 
and says that General Worth is in quiet possession of the city, 
that perfect order prevails, and that our officers are riding in 
carriages with ladies about the city. ... He says that Gen- 
eral Worth first entered Puebla with only 70 dragoons and 
rode around seeing that everything was in order, and then 
brought in his army and took possession of all commanding 
heights. The people complained bitterly of guerillas. . . . 

" Puebla, May 28. (Two thirds of the way to the capital.) 
It is near 11 p.m. and I have opened my note-book — but how 
can I record the events or the feelings of the last few days! 
General Scott and staff, with an escort of four companies of 
dragoons, left Jalapa the 23d inst. and arrived here to-day.. 
We have fought no more battles. But we have visited the 
castle of Perote after passing La Hoya, both of which the 
enemy at once abandoned after the battle of Cerro Gordo. 
We have entered this city of 75,000 inhabitants — one of the 
most beautiful cities I have ever seen. The advance of our 
army also entered, almost without opposition. Some eight 
or ten miles back. General Worth dispersed a body of cavalry 
with a few light artillery shots and took quiet possession. 
What with excitement at the mere novelty of the thing, our 
singular position, and the magnitude of the responsibilities 
devolving upon us, I think I shall not sleep to-night. 

''J past 2 A.M. Awakened by a band serenading the 
General, but I do not enjoy the music, for I cannot conceal 
from myself that this army is in a critical situation. . . . 
There is a great deal of sickness, some 400 being on the sick 
report. The General said this (last) evening that he could 
not leave here with over 4000 men in marching upon Mexico 
and there is information, greatly relied on, that the enemy 
already has 7000 regulars to oppose us, with about 15,000 
irregulars or national guards, and these increasing by quotas 
from neighboring cities. A successful battle might leave us 

2S8 Fifty Years in Camp and Field 

less than 4000 men with which to enter the capital of a very- 
hostile country, that city alone containing 150,000 inhab- 
itants. . . . The quartermaster (Captain Irwin) says he 
cannot raise funds to keep up the credit of the government. 
He is in great despondency. The General may have to resort 
to forced loans — something he dreads. 

"Puebla, May 29th. Arose early and went with Colonel 
Graham to the cathedral, — ^the most imposing building I 
have ever seen. It is many churches in one, where the devotees 
bow in front of various altars. It is a magnificent pile, and 
the tradition that angels began it and constructed a good 
portion has given Puebla the alternative pseudonym of 'The 
City of the Angels. ' 

**i past II P.M. An exciting day. Air full of rumors 
of menacing movements. An army of 20,000 men said to be 
within one day's march. The advancing column of General 
Twiggs with wagon trains 'will be attacked,' they also say. 
The camp was put in order for defence. General Twiggs 
came in all right. A Frenchman arrived just from Mexico, 
for whose veracity a Mr. Wise vouched, and said there are no 
troops this side of that city and only six or eight thousand 
there. A few minutes ago a man came in and reported hearing 
the report of artillery, probably an attack on Captain Kear- 
ney's advanced company about ten miles west. I thought it 
not worth while to wake the General on so idle a tale and 
went to sleep again." 

While the army was detained at Puebla harmony was 
broken by the insubordinate conduct of brevet Brigadier- 
General Worth. Having been sent on from Jalapa in advance 
by General Scott he took possession of the city with more 
**pomp and circumstance" than the occasion called for, and 
seems to have assumed for the time the powers and the airs 
of a Spanish generalissimo. He granted terms of capitulation 
which General Scott at once found to be inadmissible, and 
he issued a general-order circular charging the Mexicans 
with a plot to poison the army. These he did not send to 
the General-in-Chief, and, being reprimanded by him for his 
conduct, demanded a trial by a military court of inquiry. 
The demand was granted; the trial of Worth was had, and 
the court on June 24th foimd that the terms of capitulation 

A Robber Chief 259 

were ** improvident and detrimental to the public service/* 
and that the circular was "highly improper and extremely 
objectionable.'* Worth angrily resented the finding of his 
peers and appealed to Washington to give him justice. 

'* Sunday evening, 30th May. A semicircle of mountains 
is on the north and west — Orizaba, Popocatapetl, etc., — 
all constantly covered with snow. Puebla contains some 
seventy or eighty thousand people. Buildings all of stone, 
the finest and largest being religious edifices. 

''Puebla, May 31. — Last evening came from two sources 
the proclamation of Santa Anna (in print) to the Mexican 
Congress, renouncing the presidency of the republic. He 
alleges that his Mexican enemies will not fight the invaders 
and that they have so far succeeded in defaming him that his 
usefulness to his coimtry is at an end. He exults in his own 
devotion to Mexico, and alludes to our proclamation issued 
from Jalapa. The election for President of the country took 
place on the 15th; he may have news that he is not elected, 
or he may hope that Congress, ignoring the election, will 
declare him dictator. Great confusion is said to prevail at 
the capital, and it is even intimated that Mexico will receive 
us as protectors. I cannot believe it! 

''Puebla, 5th June, a.m. I have taken into service a 
very extraordinary person — a Mexican, rather portly for one 
of his profession, but with a keen, active eye and evidently 
* bold as a lion* or an honest man. He has been a very cele- 
brated captain of robbers and knows the band and the whole 
country. I have engaged him to carry a letter to the com- 
manding officer at Jalapa, and if he performs the service 
faithfully, I shall further employ him. 

** Puebla, 6th Jime. The air is full of rumors every day. 
Reinforcements coming to us; enemy concentrating in front;, 
our wagon train cut off with half a million of money. Some- 
thing is in the wind. 

** 7th. The government paper at Washington, to exalt the 
energy of the administration, says that we have now 20,000 
men! We have barely 6000. Reinforcements to the number 
of 20,000 are reported as ' on the way. ' Investigation shows 
that there are two thousand! " 

"Puebla, 9th Jime. Everything now shows that we are 

26o Fifty Years in Camp and Field 

to have a fight before reaching the capital. . . . General 
Alvarez with 3000 men is reported within 20 miles of us, 
making his way to our rear to intercept our train or sup- 
porting force. If he falls in with the latter, he will probably 
be beaten, but if he strikes a small train he may do us mischief. 
Other information (from the same source) is that we are 
being assailed from all quarters and that 30,000 men are 
coming upon us. 

" Puebla, 12th June. . . . Meantime I must note that 
Mr. Thornton of the British Legation in Mexico left that 
city at 5 P.M. of the day before yesterday and I found him 
in conversation with General Scott about 4 p.m. yesterday. 
He said he had overtaken several Frenchmen on the road 
armed for defence against robbers, and had come in with 
them. He came at the instance of the English Minister, 
Mr. Bankhead, who, it appears, has* been written to by Mr. 
Nicholas P. Trist,^ now here as a commissioner to make a 
treaty. Mr. Bankhead sends word to General Scott that the 
English Government had offered its mediation, and that our 
government, while declining to accept it, had acknowledged 
a willingness that the English Government should exert its 
'good offices* with Mexico. Mr. Thornton seems to think 
that no government exists in this country competent to make 
a peace. . . . We had already known that Santa Anna 
renounced office in a formal letter to Congress and that Con- 
gress had passed a resolution not to open the vote for the new 
President (who ought to be installed on June 15th) until 
next September, and not to inaugurate the new President 
till January. Santa Anna has recalled his resignation to meet 
existing emergencies and therefore he is now a dictator by 
virtue of a revolution. . . . 

"Mr. Thornton did not allude to troops having left the 
city of Mexico, but said that those there for the defence of 
the city would not make a stand against even 3000 men; 

» The Secretary of War directed Mr. Trist to act on the suggestion of 
General Pillow, and then directed General Scott to take his military orders 
from Mr. Trist, a private citizen appointed commissioner! Scott wrote de- 
fiantly refusing to obey Trist, and said, "I suppose this is the second at- 
tempt of the kind ever made to dishonor a General-in-Chief in the field, 
before or since the French Convention," the other being the effort to com- 
pel General Taylor to take orders from a Mr. Donaldson. 

Treaty-Makers at Work 261 

that there would be no fight there; that many people wished 
us there — all who had property, etc. . . . Various reports 
that troops have left Mexico for this vicinity. 

" 13th June. Reported that a body of the enemy is at 
Cholula, six or seven miles from here, very celebrated in the 
history of the Spanish conquest imder Cortez. . . . Our 
wagon-train has been repeatedly attacked, but will probably 
get in all right. 

**Puebla, June i8th, 1847. Some four or five days ago, 
or nights, rather, I was kept awake, thinking of the affairs 
of Mexico, until after midnight, when, finding I could not 
sleep, I rose and lit my candle and wrote a sort of address to 
the Mexican people, running through several pages — about 
five sheets of paper, indeed. The next morning I hinted my 
wish to publish it, and the General, after looking at it, was 
very willing, and said some clever things of it. It was ac- 
cordingly translated into Spanish and makes a neat pamphlet. 
The American paper published here on the i6th inst. printed 
both the English and Spanish versions." 

Hitchcock's stirring appeal to Mexicans, dominguez and 


JN the library where General Hitchcock's copious diary and 
multitudinous papers are preserved is found a very brown 
copy of ** The, American Star, No. 2, Puebla, Mexico, 
June 16, 1847," containing this letter of his in English and 
Spanish. As there was of course no " w" or ** k" in the Span- 
ish font of type that had been captured, the type-setter was 
reduced to sad extremities. The "k" seems to have been 
whittled out of an " h, " for the occasion; the *' w" was made 
by setting together two *' v's**. One of the sentences gives an 
idea of the typographic difficulties : " I will begin and will end 
\'^th nothing but facts well worth your attention. " In this 
appeal Colonel Hitchcock adopted a familiar conversational 
style, wisely treating his readers somewhat like full-grown 
children, often beginning a sentence with *' Now listen to me, " 
** Attend to what I am saying, " " Now consider, '* ** Hear this, 
for it is the truth," "Mexicans, be not deceived,** "I put it 
to your feelings!", "now listen to this!" The letter would 
make about ten pages of this book. Its purpose was to prove 
that the Americans were wholly right in their war of invasion, 
and that all reasonable Mexicans would concede the fact! 
Another incidental effect of the letter was to demonstrate 
that the writer was wholly wrong in his opinion of the invasion 
both before it began and after it ended! But these ** Remarks 
Addressed to the People of Mexico" were not in the interest 
of the author of them; they were written in behalf of his 
country and of the Commander-in-Chief. 


Dominguez and the Spy Company 263 

The points made may be briefly summarized: In 1824 
Mexico established a government after the United States 
model, in which each state elected its own governor; in 1834, 
Santa Anna broke it up, established a central government 
and appointed the governors himself; Zacatecas and Texas 
resisted the usurpation; Texas declared independence, and 
beat the army of Santa Anna at San Jacinto, and took him 
prisoner; Santa Anna's officers, under his orders, massacred 
500 Texans at Goliad after surrender ; Texas, being now inde- 
pendent, applied for admission to the United States, which 
refused and postponed the act for ten years ; the war between 
Mexico and Texas abolished all boundaries ; we sent a Minister 
to Mexico to agree on the boundary; he was repelled; we 
then sent an *'Army of Occupation" to the Rio Grande; the 
Mexicans crossed the river and assaulted us ; they were beaten 
and have been beaten ever since, though Santa Anna boasts 
of victories: "we have not a particle of ill-will towards you 
— we treat you with all civility — we are not in fact your ene- 
mies; we do not plimder your people or insult your women 
or your religion; an accomplished and beautiful woman, 
the lovely daughter of our Commander-in-Chief, died recently 
in a Catholic convent in the United States, under the sancti- 
fied rites of the Catholic Church" ; " we are here for no earthly 
purpose except the hope of obtaining a peace." 

This shrewdly drawn appeal to the people was printed by 
the ten thousand and widely circulated along the line of march. 

" Puebla, 20th June. The Mexican robber-chief Dominguez, 
whom I sent with a letter of General Scott's to Jalapa and 
Vera Cruz on the 3d, has got back here bringing a return 
despatch from Colonel Childs. . . . Through this man I 
am anxious to make an arrangement to this effect: that, 
for a sum of money yet to be determined, the robbers shall 
let our people pass without molestation and that they shall, 
for extra compensation, furnish us with guides, couriers, and 

" Puebla, 23d June. The robber Dominguez is a very cu- 
rious and interesting man. When General Worth first arrived 
here, some person pointed out this man as a great robber 
and desired that he might be seized. He was living quietly 
with his family here, the people fearing him or the laws being 

264 Fifty Years in Camp and Field 

powerless in regard to him. General Worth arrested him, but, 
after a few days, sent to him saying that he was arrested on 
complaint of his own people, and, giving him to imderstand 
that he had no friends among the Mexicans, offered to take 
him into our service. The plan took, and when General 
Scott arrived, he at once sent Dominguez to me. 

'* I tried him and foimd him faithful. When I settled with 
him, paying him about $110, including his outfit, I suggested 
his bringing into our service the whole band of professional 
robbers that line the road from Mexico to Vera Cruz. He 
assented, but frankly spoke of the difficulty of giving security 
for their good faith and honesty. I told him to think the 
matter over and we would talk again. 

*'The next day. Major Smith's interpreter (Mr. Spooner) 
recognized our Dominguez as the fellow who had robbed 
him on the highway! Dominguez took $5 from him and 
gave him a pass of protection from other robbers. 

**Last evening we saw Dominguez again and engaged five 
of his men at $2 a day, with himself at $3 a day. I told 
Dominguez to find out how many men he can control on the 
road. He thinks some 300. I have ordered the five men 
in different directions for information. 

''Puebla, 25th June. Yesterday Mr. Thornton, Secretary 
of the British Legation in Mexico, came here from the city and 
informed General Scott that, when leaving here a few days 
ago, Mr. Trist sent by him to Mexico a letter from the Amer- 
ican Secretary of State to the Mexican Secretary of State 
containing some * proposals, ' and that Santa Anna had called 
an extraordinary session of Congress to lay the proposals 
before it. Santa Anna gave Mr. Thornton a passport to 
come here, so that, just at this moment, the prospect leans 
a little towards an accommodation. If our train gets up 
safely, with the 3000 or 3500 men we expect with it, the 
Mexican Congress may think it best to come to terms. 

** 26th June. This morning I brought twelve from the 
city prison into the presence of my Dominguez and saw a 
most extraordinary meeting. Dominguez met some of his 
friends for the first time for years — ^men with whom he had 
doubtless been engaged in many an adventure, perhaps high- 
way robbery. They embraced and swore eternal fidelity 

Santa Anna Summons his Congress 265 

to each other and to the United States. I remanded them 
to prison, saying that I would report their cases to the General 
and ask their release. 

"June 28, and I did report to the General, who ordered 
their release. I distributed about $50 among them and last 
evening I arranged with Dominguez that he should forth- 
with enroll about 200 of them. They are to be formed into 
companies and to operate under the orders of the General. 
We are to pay $20 a month to each man and they find every- 
thing. Each man counts, in fact, two for us, for if we did 
not employ them the enemy would ; so that one detached from 
the enemy and transferred to us makes a difference of two 
in our favor. Dominguez says he will bring over the guerillas 
to our side or seize their chiefs and bring them prisoners to 
our general, etc., etc. 

"30th June. Last evening the General-in-Chief called 
together Generals Quitman, Twiggs, and Smith and several 
colonels and majors, and stated the details of the plan for 
employing the Mexican robber-band. They expressed them- 
selves unanimously and warmly in its favor, and discussed 
their wages, etc. 

"Puebla, July 8, '47. The great train of wagons, upward 
of 500, arrived to-day with an escort of 4000 men under Gen- 
eral Pillow. General Cadwalader has also come up. General 
Shields, who was wounded at Cerro Gordo and left at Jalapa, 
has recovered and has also come to head-quarters. The mail 
came, or a part of it, last evening. 

** July II. The news from Mexico forebodes anything but 
peace. The Congress of Mexico lacks 11 of a quorum; so it 
will not probably be in power to act on the nomination of 
commissioners. With this news, we hear that Santa Anna 
has over 20,000 men under arms, well clad and full of con- 
fidence in our defeat. With this state of things no negotia- 
tions can take place. General Pierce is coming up to us from 
Vera Cruz, and then, about 10 days hence, we shall probably 
move forward and try our strength with Santa Anna. We 
may have 9000 men to march with, though this is uncertain. " 

Considering its environments and its comparative weak- 
ness, the army had made surprising progress, but General Scott 
was not happy. He asserted to his staff that the adminis- 

266 Fifty Years in Camp and Field 

tration had done "everything it could" to hamper and delay 
him: and it most certainly had failed to send the abundant 
reinforcements which it had promised; it had withheld am- 
munition and supplies; it had appointed its partisan parasites 
to harass and to watch him, and it now deliberately proposed 
to supersede him, and appoint in his place Senator Thomas 
H. Benton as Lieutenant-General in command of the armies 
in Mexico! At this juncture General Scott made a brief sum- 
mary of his annoyances and sent it to Washington with his 
resignation, saying, "Considering the many cruel disappoint- 
ments and mortifications that I have been made to feel I beg 
to be recalled." This vigorous anticipation of the plan to 
degrade him made the Benton scheme obviously preposter- 
ous, brought upon it ridicule, and it was dropped at Washington 
and the General-in-Chief was permitted to push on. 

**July 12. Appearances grow more warlike every day. 
The news from Mexico does not look towards peace; but, 
on the contrary, extensive means of defence are supposed to 
be in the capital — 20,000 to 25,000 men, and sixty pieces 
of artillery. The men well fed and paid. They may not be 
disciplined or instructed. A flag of truce goes to-day to de- 
mand the return of certain prisoners taken near Saltillo. 

"Puebla, July 16. Always darkest just before morning 
Reported that Santa Anna has called all the guerilla parties 
to Mexico and that he has nearly 30,000 men for the defence 
of the capital. This may be or may not be. Meantime it is 
whispered that the English merchants in Mexico are extremely 
anxious for a peace, and that they say a peace can be had for 
a little money. I understand that the money may be had. It 
is now I to I that there will be a peace. 

"Puebla, July 18. Make a mark here, for this morning 
our eyes are greeted with a view of Popocatapetl in action. 
The snow is disappearing on its summit and black volumes 
of smoke are sent up from the great deep within. This city 
is in sight of four enormous snow-capped peaks. . . . 

' * Night before last General Scott assembled his chief officers 
at his quarters to 'post them up' he said — Generals Pillow, 
Quitman, Twiggs, Shields, and Cadwalader. General Worth 
was at his quarters and General Smith was sick. The General 
called me into the circle. He stated that General Pierce was 


Conference of Scott's Generals 267 

on his way here from Vera Cruz with 2200 men, and in his 
opinion we ought to wait his arrival, even if it should re- 
quire a delay of a fortnight. Some expressed decided assent. 
Nobody objected. 

' ' The General also mentioned that it had been intimated 
from the capital through a very reliable channel that money 
was all that was needed to bring Santa Anna to terms ; that he, 
General Scott, had conversed on the subject with the American 
commissioner, Mr. Trist, and had agreed to furnish the money 
on Mr. Trist *s asking for it as a necessary step in the nego- 
tiations; that Mr. Trist had replied that he had no specific 
instructions to meet such a contingency, but he was induced 
to believe it necessary and would take the responsibility; 
that $10,000 had actually been despatched to a particular 
individual in the government (not Santa Anna) ; and that, 
in addition to this, the sum of one million dollars had been 
placed in position in the capital, to be offered from a secret 
service fund (not to be alluded to in the treaty) ; but this sum 
is not to pass under the orders of Santa Anna till the treaty 
shall be formally ratified. When this was fully explained, 
General Pillow came out very fully and eloquently in support 
of the measure, only stipulating, as a condition, that the 
United States should have such a treaty as was desired. 

"General Quitman did not like the payment of money se- 
cretly as a bribe, and thought our people at home might not or 
would not approve of it ; but he expressed himself very decid- 
edly in approval of the motives which induced the measure 
and pledged himself to defend those motives. General Twiggs 
approved of the whole scheme. General Shields intimated 
doubts and misgivings about the million, and said that, as he 
knew nothing about the terms of the proposed treaty, he could 
give no opinion ; he might perhaps dissent from the treaty itself, 
but he seemed entirely willing that the matter should be dis- 
posed of by Commissioner Trist, wishing, apparently as a mat- 
ter of personal friendship, that General Scott should have 
nothing to do with disposing of the million. To this the General 
(Scott) explained that, though he approved of the use of the 
million, and would under all circumstances defend Mr. Trist in 
that use of it, still the use proposed was a matter for Mr. Trist 
to determine altogether by himself, and that he, General Scott, 

268 Fifty Years in Camp and Field 

offered the money from the contingent fund only because Mr. 
Trist could not do it. General Cadwalader was partially ap- 
pealed to by General Shields for an opinion ; but General Twiggs 
had arisen and taken his hat to take leave, and it was quite 
late and signs of retiring were visible all around the table, so 
that General C. merely remarked that enough had been said, 
and so said nothing. 

**It was represented that Santa Anna was disposed to 
make a treaty, but could not do it with safety to himself 
and the preservation of the government without having means 
at his disposal to 'satisfy' certain persons of influence who 
looked for a consideration of some sort, according to what was 
represented to Mr. Trist as a custom universally obtaining 
in Mexico. The agents assured Mr. Trist that no business 
could be done with any Mexican functionary without a bribe 
— ^and that a million of money was a prerequisite. General 
Scott said that he would not tempt the fidelity or patriotism 
of any Mexican, but he knew of no code of morals which 
forbade profiting by a professed willingness to be bribed. 

"Puebla, July 21st. This is the day when an answer 
is expected from Mexico. The English Minister is engaged 
in bringing about a peace. ^ He gives the opinion that a 
bribe is absolutely indispensable. The Spanish Minister 
is said to have given the same opinion. Our agents in this 
business are Englishmen. 

"It is now said that the Mexican Congress had a quorum 
on the 13th and decided that it had no power to appoint com- 
missioners to conclude a treaty of peace; that the President, 
Santa Anna, has all the necessary power, while Congress, 
like our Senate, has only an advisory word — ^to accept or 
reject the treaty when made. 

"July 22, A.M. The Mexicans sent in a flag of truce this 
morning in answer to a 'demand' of our general some days 
ago. ... A private letter from Mexico gives some prospect 
of peace. The time is critical. It is evident that we are 
soon to have peace or a prolonged war. 

J In his diary some weeks later Colonel Hitchcock wrote: "But by this 
time Santa Anna had come to the conclusion that his army could not 
only keep us out of the capital but could cut us off from the coast, so the 
financial negotiation was broken off in a few days. " 

Resort to Bribery 269 

**Puebla, July 25, a.m. Yesterday a note was received 
from the capital, from Mr. T — to the effect that Santa Anna 
was in favor of peace, but could not induce Congress to repeal 
certain resolutions declaring it treason in or out of the govern- 
ment to offer to treat with us. These resolutions were passed 
in a fury immediately after the battle of Cerro Gordo. The 
note goes on to say that we must advance on the capital, 
and that we will be met by a flag before we reach the Pifion 
(a point fortified, on the main causeway, about nine miles 
from the city) .... 

**Puebla, July 26. J past 11 p.m., and the idea of peace 
is all knocked into a cocked hat. Reports come in of forces 
of Mexicans being in motion to cut off General Pierce, sup- 
posed to be on his way from Vera Cruz with 2000 men, and 
to be this side of Orizaba. General Smith has been des- 
patched to his assistance. ... If we can get Pierce here^ 
we shall go on with some good men to try the strength of 
the capital. 

"July 30. The general officers (except General Twiggs), 
each with a portion of his staff, dined yesterday with General 
Pillow. Present Generals Scott, Quitman, Shields, Cadwal- 
ader and Worth, with Commissioner Trist. The dinner * went 
off' very well. 

** Everything now shows that the Mexicans intend to 
carry on the war to the utmost of their ability, and the pro- 
bability now is that our attempt to enter the capital will be 
met with most determined opposition. We shall have 8500 
men: the Mexicans perhaps three times as many, with 80 
to 100 pieces of artillery. . . . The trains have rendered the 
roads almost impassable, and the city can be surrounded 
with water, and all the great thoroughfares cut off by deep 
ditches and defended by artillery. The English Minister, Mr. 
Bankhead, thinks that our advance to Chalco would bring 
about a peace. 

"Puebla, Mexico, Aug. i, 1847 (Sunday). General Scott 
is here in person with about 11,000 men — some 2000 of them 
on sick report. General Pierce is coming from Vera Cruz with 
2000 men. We hear that he is coming without a supply of 
money — the severest blow that we could receive. If we 
undertake to levy on the people for supplies or contributions 

270 Fifty Years in Camp and Field 

we arm the whole country against us. . . . Yesterday I 
visited historic Cholula with the General. He very propedy 
called it the Etruria of Mexico. 

*' Puebla, Aug. 2. An American just out from the capital 
reports 30,000 men there — 15,000 well drilled. Two batteries 
cover each causeway by which entrance to the city must be 
made. . . . They are fortifying Guadalupe, an elevation 
nearly north of the city and commanding it. We must take 
that. . . . 

"Puebla, Aug. 5. The General is preparing the order 
for the commencement of the march on Mexico. To-day is 
Thursday ; the movement of some division begins on Saturday ; 
on Sunday the General himself follows with another division; 
on Monday and Tuesday, two other divisions in succession. 
Colonel Childs is to be left in command of the garrison here. 
. . . Major Gaines has escaped and come in. . . . A 
piping time for rumors: General Valencia is about to drive 
us out of here with 15,000 men; cavalry are galloping to cut 
off our retreat, etc., etc. . . . Letters received from Mex- 
ico say that Santa Anna has some 30,000 men made up 
of 5000 very good soldiers; 5000 tolerably good; 10,000 
indifferent; and 10,000 bad. . . . Talked to-day with an 
intelligent Mexican who did not hesitate to say (and evidently 
with sincerity) that a defeat of our army would be the greatest 
calamity to Mexico; for Santa Anna would then be declared 
dictator, and there would be an end of all free government. 



AT Puebla General Scott had now paused with his army 
more than two months waiting for reinforcements, pro- 
visions, money, and more favorable conditions in front. 
During this time the army had somewhat increased in num- 
bers and effectiveness. The rest had furnished Colonel 
Hitchcock with a coveted opportimity to inspect the various 
commands, to get the army into fighting trim and keep it in 
order, and to prepare it for the inevitable advance. Little of 
this work is revealed in the diary, for the one thing which he 
almost entirely neglects to chronicle in his otherwise faithful 
note-books is his professional service. But enough is revealed 
to indicate that the Inspector-General was incessantly busy 
during these hot months of sojourn on the volcano-side, 80 
miles east of Mexico, and from Vera Cruz to the capital hardly 
any of his written soliloquies contain discussions of Plato or 

* * Puebla, Aug. 7 , near 9 p.m. I have prepared for a move to- 
morrow morning with General Scott. General Twiggs marched 
this morning at 7 o'clock. His division of 3000 men made 
a fine appearance. The four divisions, to move on successive 
days, may number 8500 men — a small force for the object 
we have in view. I see nothing to prevent a sanguinary 
conflict. The sentiment of the army is that we cannot afford 
to be beat, but must enter the capital. 

" Puente Tesmoluca, Aug. 9, 1847. Arrived to-day within 
8 miles of Rio Frio (Cold River). General Scott and his staff 
left Puebla yesterday with General Quitman's division, but 


272 Fifty Years in Camp and Field 

with a separate escort. He left General Q. to encamp some 
10 or II miles from Puebla, and overtook General Twiggs, who 
left Puebla on the 7th, and encamped (or quartered) at San 
Martin. The valley and the tremendous moimtain are never 
to be forgotten, but I have no time to note. 

' * Ayotla, Aug. 1 1 . Arrived, with General Twiggs's division, 
at this, the last town on the road to Mexico, and only 7} miles 
from the Pifion, the main point of defence relied on by the 
Mexicans. General Quitman came up to Buena Vista (haci- 
enda) some six miles from here just as General Scott continued 
on his route here. General S. left San Domingo (hacienda) this 
morning. We came in sight of the valley of Mexico yesterday, 
and a fine view indeed it was. We ascended for a distance of 
7 or 8 miles from Rio Frio, at one or two points having a dis- 
tant (obscure) view of the city itself. We ought to have at- 
tacked this morning, if not last night, but the Mexicans made 
no other move than sending a body of cavalry to look at us, 
and they ran off the moment Colonel Harney sent a party of 
dragoons after them. We are now on the borders of Lake 
Chalco, and I have seen the beautiful little islets, which, 
cultivated, one might suppose to be the identical 'floating 
gardens* we read of as existing in the time of the Montezumas. 

**Aug. 12. The General sent out a party to reconnoitre 
the Pifion, and followed himself (and staff) soon after. The 
day was not perfectly clear, yet, as we came upon the great 
plain in which the city of Mexico stands, we could distinguish 
objects very clearly. First, in the midst of the plain rises 
a hill at least 500 feet — some think 700. This is the Pifion, 
which is fortified and covered with gims. To the north and 
south are lakes: the causeway to the city leads between the 
lakes and passes directly by the base of the Pifion on the north 
side. The Pifion is about 9 miles from the city. By stepping 
to the right we can catch a view of the two towers of the great 
cathedral. . . . The General and his staff were about 2 J 
or 3 miles from the Pifion. Half-way between us and the 
Pifion was the escort of the reconnoitring party — part of 
a regiment of artillery (as infantry) and two pieces of artillery. 
The engineers could be seen at points around with their glasses 
surveying the works in front. They went within half a mile 
of the foot of the Pifion and were not fired on. They tried 

Flanking the Pifion 273 

to draw the fire, to discover where the guns were and of what 
caHbre. Immediately south is a volcanic mountain, silent, 
may be 1000 feet high, on top of which several of our officers 
are looking at the city. In our rear, at Ayotla, is Twiggs's 
division, and at Buena Vista, 7 miles, are Quitman's and 
Worth's divisions, the latter having marched from Rio Frio 
to the head of Lake Chalco. We suppose General Pillow has 
arrived at Rio Frio by this time. Each of these divisions is 
about 2500 strong. The enemy literally swarms at the Pifion. 

*' Ayotla, Aug. 13, a.m. Capt. Robert E. Lee, with an 
escort of one company of dragoons, made another reconnais- 
sance yesterday afternoon, returning late. He had been in 
the direction of Mexicalcingo to see if the city cannot be 
entered from that way so as to leave the fortifications at the 
Pifion to the right. He could not push his observations far 
enough to determine. The report received last evening from 
a special runner (but not a very intelligent man) is that the 
route south of Lake Chalco is impracticable — boggy and very 
much cut up by gullies (barancas) . 

* ' Ayotla, Aug. 1 4. Yesterday General Scott and some of us 
of his staff rode to Chalco and found General Worth quartered 
there with his division. I found Captain Hooker of General 
Pillow's staff, led him at once to the General, and heard him 
report that General Pillow was near at hand in good order. 
Thus the rear has come up. On our return here we met General 
Pillow at the head of his column between Buena Vista and 
Chalco, his wagons very much strung out, but all coming on. 
No effort had been made to stop him. The reconnoitring party 
came in late. The General heard their several reports. Cap- 
tain Lee had examined the vicinity of Mexicalcingo, some 13 
miles from here, having Captain Mason and Lieutenant Pierre 
Toutant Beauregard with him. Lieutenant Stevens has been 
almost around the Pifion and was for several hours in the water 
within reach of fire, but the enemy took no notice of him. . . . 
Later: A disaster has occurred. Two of our small parties at a 
distance of a few miles from the army have been captured 
or dispersed, losing several killed. One incautiously visited 
a foimdry to ascertain if we could get some shot and shell 
there, and the other was out after sheep. In the first affair, 
the natives in our service secured as trophies several lances. 

2 74 Fifty Years in Camp and Field 

each bearing a small flag; one which I have is about 12 x i8 
inches and swallow-tailed, and is inscribed with a death's 
head and bones with the legend in Spanish, * We give no quar- 

** Ayotla, Aug. 15, a.m. The General received, last evening, 
from General Worth, who is at Chalco, the result of a recon- 
naissance on the road south of the lake, and Colonel Duncan, 
who conducted the reconnaissance, came with the report and 
added oral explanations. The route had been first in the 
General's mind as that by which he would advance upon the 
city; but he had heard such bad accounts of it that he had 
nearly abandoned all hope of using it and had actually laid 
down his plan of attack upon the batteries at Mexicalcingo, 
leaving the Piflon to the right. General Pillow was to come 
here to-day preparatory to taking position to-morrow in 
front of the Piflon, which the General intended to threaten 
by a display before it and then suddenly fall upon the bat- 
teries at Mexicalcingo. He was perfectly confident of success. 

" Ochlomilcho, Aug. 17. Captain Lee's reconnaissance to- 
day has settled the route of advance in General Scott's mind. 
He is going southward of Chalco. He thinks he may have to 
fight the whole Mexican army at San Augustin, and it is now 
said by Mexicans (in captured mail from the city) to be 
30,000 strong." 

General Scott had made strong feints against the Piiion 
(near the national road) and Mexicalcingo, to deceive the 
enemy and detain his troops there; but he foimd there after 
personal inspection **a narrow causeway with swamps on 
both sides " and he says in his official report to the War Depart- 
ment, under this date: ** Those difficulties, closely viewed, 
threw me back upon the project, long entertained, of turning 
the strong defences of the city by passing around south of 
Lake Chalco, so as to reach this point on land." The whole 
army was therefore moved by the left around Lake Chalco. 

"San Augustin, Aug. 18, 1847. Headquarters arrived 
here this morning early from Ochlomilcho, where we stayed 
last night with General Pillow's division. General Worth came 
here with his division yesterday. Since getting here we have 
heard of the arrival of General Quitman at Ochlomilcho, and 
also General Twiggs, whose division brings up the rear. When 

The Detour to San Augustin 275 

General Twiggs left Ayotla the day after we did (the i6th) 
he found a large body of the enemy apparently prepared to 
receive him. He fired six-poimders upon their advance and 
they retired. He thinks there were 1000 cavalry and nine 
battalions of infantry — several thousand men, while he had 
only 2300. The army moved around Chalco with consider- 
able difficuhy over a road thought by the Mexicans to be 
absolutely impracticable — so we hear.^ 

"This morning General Worth advanced some two miles 
towards San Antonio on the open road to Mexico (on our 
right) and came within range of some of the enemy's guns. 
One round shot killed Captain Thornton of the 2d Dragoons. 
Captain Lee of the Engineers reconnoitred part of a road in 
the hope of finding how San Antonio may be turned. His 
supporting party fell in with the enemy and killed several, 
taking five prisoners, and lost only one horse. 

" San Augustin, Aug. 19, early, and affairs present rather an 
uncomfortable aspect. We have no forage for our horses ; our 
hard bread is getting musty ; we have four days' rations for the 
army and some beef on the hoof. The defences of San Antonio 
are thought by General Worth to be too strong for an assault 
— ^that the taking of them would cripple the army. This 
opinion he gave to General Scott last evening when we were 
looking at their works, not over 1 200 yards away. Our men 
were exposed on the wet ground before San Antonio, and the 
General-in-Chief appeared discouraged as we rode along the 
road lined with men, horses, and wagons — ^the men without 
tents, the evening almost cold and a menace of rain. . . . 
The route to San Antonio is almost impracticable, 't is said, 
and there is no certainty that we shall not find works of defence 
beyond in that direction equal to those here. The General 
thinks he can not carry his baggage-train if he goes that way, 
and to leave the train and siege-guns would require him to 
leave a division of troops. 

"9 A.M. Our prospects rather darken every moment. 

« The miracle of getting over this " impassable" region is thus explained 
by the imaginative writer of one of the letters from Mexico captured about 
this time by Scott's army: "It was declared to be impassable. But each 
man of eight or ten thousand Americans who had to pass that way took 
a bag of sand on his shoulders, so that on the way they mended the road 
as they went along with eight or ten thousand bags of sand!" 

276 Fifty Years in Camp and Field 

Now is the time for the General to keep cool! The enemy- 
has evidently commenced firing upon General Worth's position 
and he can do nothing, while a report comes that the enemy 
has removed all but four gims from the Pifion. These guns, 
so removed, we must meet somewhere else. If now we go 
forward to San Angel, 5 miles by a difficult mountain road, 
the enemy may carry his gims to that place by a good road 
of only two miles. We now begin to see that, while we move 
over the arc of a circle surrounding the city, the enemy moves 
over a chord, and can concentrate at any point before we 
can reach it. The only advantage that we can expect is 
that the artificial defences are less complete south and west 
of the city. We are now, I believe, nearly southwest of the 
city, having passed over an almost impracticable road from 
Chalco, aroimd the lake, at the foot of volcanic hills — a, 
distance of fifteen or eighteen miles. This volcanic slag is 
terrible upon the feet of animals, upon our wagons, etc. The 
country is beautiful, with elements of sublimity, but we are 
not in the right state of mind to enjoy natural scenery. — 
Ping-bang! A gun, and more. 

**San Augustin, Aug. 20, 7 a.m. The events of yesterday 
cannot be crowded into a small space. Rather early in the 
morning the enemy was seen to the left in the direction of 
San Angel, about four miles distant, and a report came that 
there were 10,000 men at the town. Then we heard that the 
advance of the enemy was several thousand, with five pieces 
of artillery. It turned out that they had at least twelve pieces, 
and perhaps twenty, some of them 9-pound ers if not 16- 
poimders. Our General ordered General Pillow with his di- 
vision to proceed in that direction and open a practicable road 
for our artillery. General Pillow to be covered by General 

'*5.2o P.M. I have just returned to San Augustin after a 
ride of some twenty miles. After writing the above para- 
graph I was suddenly called off and a multitude of events 
have happened since. It would take pages to record them. I 
can only outline them: 

**I looked this morning from our house-top upon the field 
occupied by the enemy yesterday — ^and — ^but I am getting 
ahead of my story. First, General Twiggs and General Pillow 

Victory at Contreras in Seventeen Minutes 277 

found the enemy with breastworks and artillery strongly 
posted to intercept our passage to San Angel. A scattering 
attack was begun and kept up many hours, from about i p.m. 
till dark. 

**The General-in-Chief arrived on the field of battle at 
3 P.M. of Aug. 19, precisely. I looked at my watch and made 
note of it — ^his position being on a hill commanding a magnif- 
icent view of the battle and of Mexico. We came up and 
it commenced raining. The work had not gone on well. 
A brigade under Riley had made a handsome movement, 
but, having no support, produced no results. Meantime 
the enemy, besides from 3000 to 5000 in their entrenchments, 
had an immense supporting force sent out from Mexico — 
not less than 12,000 and many think 15,000. They moved 
up in fine style in full view of General Scott, but did not join 
those in the fortifications. There was a small village inter- 
posed between the enemy's works an4 their supporting force 
which our troops occupied. The supporting force could have 
passed around the village, but did not. 

**At night Captain Lee — 'the* engineer — came to town to 
report to General Scott the opinion of General Persifer F. 
Smith that he could make a movement at 3 a.m. and storm 
the enemy *s batteries. This plan was approved, and, though 
it was raining all night, Lee went back and at 3 o'clock 
this morning the movement commenced. Our troops passed 
around into the rear of the enemy under cover of night and 
defiled and reached a favorable position, with infinite labor, 
from which they advanced in two columns directly upon the 
enemy's batteries, which the Mexicans, strange to say, had 
left entirely open. Our troops rushed fon\^ard so rapidly 
that but a few shots were fired and the Mexicans were so 
much taken by surprise that their shots produced little effect, 
while their loss was immense.^ 

» This was the remarkable battle of Contreras. In General Hitchcock's 
elaborate introduction to a pamphlet of 32 pages, being A Series of Inter- 
cepted Letters, Captured by the American Guard at Tacubaya, August, 
1842, published by a wounded soldier, he says of this affair: "Valencia's 
entrenched camp at Contreras was taken in seventeen minutes, by the 
watch, by about 1500 men, without artillery or cavalry, — he having 5000 
men with twenty-three pieces of fine artillery, covered by about 2000 
cavalry. " 

2 78 Fifty Years in Camp and Field 

**It is a poetic fact in this affair that the two identical 
6-poiinders which the enemy captured at Buena Vista (lost 
with infinite honor) were here recaptured by the very regi- 
ment (4th Artillery) to which the guns had originally belonged ! 
Captain Simon Dunn first laid hands upon the guns and 
recognized them. The works were taken with a dash, and 
besides the great number killed there were several hundred 
prisoners taken by us, including three generals. Among these 
is the General Salos, well known in the history of this war, 
who issued a proclamation authorizing guerilla parties and ad- 
vocating the doctrine of showing 'no quarter to the Yankees. ' 
If he were shot it might be just. 

*'This morning I looked upon the battle-field and saw 
the enemy in great force, and so reported to the General at 
about 5.30. Half an hour later I looked from the house-top 
with my glasses, and saw very clearly the whole movement 
of our troops — saw them debouch from the hills and pass 
down upon the enemy's works — saw the enemy fire upon our 
troops, having turned his guns around for the purpose. I 
reported the movement to the General, but I told him I 
could not understand how our troops had got so far around 
to the enemy's left and rear in an hour or two. About 9 a.m. 
the General rode with his staff out to the battle-field, and 
then planned an attack upon San Antonio (from the north) , 
before which (on the south) Worth's division was still lying. 
He intended to pass along the road to San Angel, and then 
use a cross-road which would place him in rear of the enemy's 
works at San Antonio. Then he meant to summon the 
commander to surrender. Worth threatening the place in 
front. But Worth had already succeeded in turning the 
enemy's left and throwing a brigade to the rear, and the 
enemy then abandoned his defences. 

*'The General had passed through San Angel when this 
state of things was reported. He then pushed on Twiggs 
with his division to attack a fortified convent about 500 yards 
(a quarter of a mile or so) from the jimction of the San Angel 
road with that of San Antonio. The attack was begim at 
12.45 P-M. and a tremendous fight came off. It lasted for 
two hours and three quarters, at the end of which time 
the batteries were silenced and taken and many prisoners 

Conference for Peace 279 

captured, including three more generals. Some important 
officers of state also fell into our hands, among them Amaya, 
the President's substitute elected by Congress after Cerro 
Gordo. While the battle was raging at the convent (enclosed 
by an immense stone wall and artificially fortified with great 
skill) the report came that General Worth was advancing down 
the San Antonio road, and would soon be in position to attack 
the enemy in flank. 

" It turned out that, besides the work attacked by Twiggs, 
there was still another armed with heavy guns — a regular 
fortification with bastion fronts, — directly at the junction of 
the San Angel and San Antonio roads. This work was gal- 
lantly assaulted and taken after a desperate conflict, and its 
gtms were immediately turned upon the work which was hold- 
ing in check Twiggs's troops. This latter work then ceased 
firing and held out a white flag, surrendering at discretion. 

** Meantime the General ordered two brigades — Pierce's 
and Shields's, — ^to pass to the left and get into the rear of 
the work attacked by Worth. This movement was made, 
and no doubt contributed to the success of the day, helping 
Worth and Worth's success helping Twiggs. 

"On the whole, the events of the day have been — as the 
phrase is — 'glorious' in the highest degree. We have lost 
very few men, considering the nature of the works attacked 
and the desperate defence made in the afternoon. I have 
heard of only five officers killed to-day. General Scott was 
slightly wounded during the battle, but said nothing of it 
at the moment. I only heard the balls whistle. ^ 

"Coyoacan, 21st Aug., noon. The General and his staff 
had just arrived at this small collection of houses, between 
San Angel and Churubusco, and was about to proceed to 
Tacubaya, in the suburbs of the capital, when a fine carriage 
drove up and General Mora was presented to General Scott. 
All gave way at once for the interview between the two gen- 
erals and Mr. Trist, the American commissioner. The Mexican 
handed a parcel to General Scott, who handed it over to Mr. 

« From the official report of General Scott after the battle of Contreras : 
**To the staff attached to general head-quarters, I was again under high 
obligations for services in the field, as always in the bureaus. I add their 
names: Lieutenant-Colonel Hitchcock," etc. 

28o Fifty Years in Camp and Field 

Trist, who broke the seal and read the enclosure. The parties 
have now been in conference over half an hour under the 
shade of a tree. We outsiders suppose communications have 
been opened between the Mexican Government and ours, 
and we hope it may be the beginning of a peace. The army 
achieved wonders yesterday, and last night the English secre- 
tary of legation came to see General Scott at San Augustin, 
ostensibly to ask for a safeguard for the English Minister 
and British subjects, but really to prepare the way for peace. 
He said that the city was perfectly astoimded at our success — 
that the greatest consternation pervades the capital. 

**Tacubaya, Aug. 22. The General arrived here yester- 
day about 5 P.M., with his staff and an escort of cavalry, 
and took quarters in the bishop*s palace, about half or three 
quarters of a mile from Chapultepec — ^the hill which commands 
the city. The commandant of Chapultepec received orders 
from Mexico not to fire on us here, which fact was communi- 
cated by a flag towards evening. At this time General Worth's 
division marched into this place; it was raining heavily and 
continued to rain till late at night. This morning the English 
courier came from the city and gave us unofficial intelligence 
that Santa Anna had appointed commissioners to arrange 
terms of an armistice, and he had come out at the request 
of the English consul to offer a house belonging to him as 
a convenient place for the meeting. Meantime a Mexican 
mail-carrier was intercepted by us, and he says that Santa 
Anna has not more than 4000 troops left out of the 20,000. 
I asked him what had become of them. He said they had 
* run away!* 

**The officers are assembled in knots discussing the events 
of the 20th — certainly the most important that ever occupied 
the attention of an American army. There is a vast deal of 
discussion — and tolerably good feeling as yet, but developing 
points of difference which will grow into very grave matters. 
All agree that our troops outdid themselves, and fought as 
troops seldom ever did before. The Mexicans, too, fought 
as they have never before fought us — desperately and with 
immense loss. No estimate of the numbers of the enemy 
can be relied on, but all agree that the odds were immensely 
against us. The operations of the day must be regarded as 

Battles in Front of Mexico 281 

a unit, for probably no single success was wholly independent 
of some other success, unless we except the first event — 
the attack at about 6 a.m. upon Valencia's position (Contreras) 
some three and a half or four miles from San Augustin. 

"To rehearse: In the morning of the day before yester- 
day, our troops were distributed as follows : General Pillow's, 
General Twiggs's, and half of General Quitman's divisions * 
were on the field in the presence of and threatening Valencia on 
the road from San Augustin to San Angel, —the space between 
Valencia's force and San Augustin being almost impassable 
with volcanic scoria; General Quitman was at San Augustin 
with one of his brigades ; General Worth was menacing San An- 
tonio two miles from San Augustin. The operations of the day 
commenced with an assault on Valencia's fort, which was 
carried with a loss on our side of less than 30 men. It was 
a surprise and proved a complete defeat, although, besides 
the 5000 men at the fort, there were the evening before 12,000 
or 15,000 men within a mile and a half (towards Mexico). The 
reinforcements all retired (northeast) and took position at 
the defences at Churubusco and the tHe-de-pont, which were 
very strong. 

**When General Scott reached San Angel, about 11 a.m., 
he designed sending troops to the right, on the San Antonio 
road, to get in the rear of the troops at the very strong works 
at San Antonio, and had sent instructions to General Worth 
to threaten in front as soon as he should know of the move- 
ment in the rear. General Worth had discretionary orders to 
assail San Antonio if he could do so with advantage. He found 
that he could turn San Antonio himself and sent troops to 
the right (his left) for the purpose of doing so, which the 
enemy perceived and abandoned his works and was soon in 
full retreat from San Antonio. These troops united at Churu- 
busco and the tete-de-pont with the large reinforcements origi- 
nally intended for the support of Valencia, so that by about 

» "This force had to cross what by the Mexicans is called Pedrigal, i.e., 
a surface of volcanic scoria broken into every possible form, presenting 
sharp stones and deep fissures, exceedingly difficult for the passage of in- 
fantry, and impossible for that of cavalry except by a single road, in front 
of which, and perfectly commanding it. General Valencia had established 
an entrenched camp on elevated ground." — Hitchcock's Introduction to 
Captured Letters. 

282 Fifty Years in Camp and Field 

noon the whole Mexican force was reassembled at those two 

"In this state of things, General Scott determined to attack 
the works in his front, Twiggs and Pillow being up with him 
at San Angel, or, rather, at a small place in advance called 
Coyoacan, perhaps two miles from Churubusco. From Coyoa- 
can onwards there were three roads: Twiggs advanced down 
the road directly towards Churubusco; Pillow turned off to 
the right to get on the flank; and Brigadier-Generals Pierce 
and Shields (the latter of Quitman's division) went to the 
left to get on the other flank. 

"Twiggs began the fight at Churubusco, about 12.45 P-M. 
He sent word that he was doing very well and needed no 
assistance, but soon called for aid. The General-in-Chief 
sent to General Twiggs Riley's brigade (a part of Twiggs's 
division) , having despatched Pierce and Shields around to the 
left and rear. The firing was tremendous, both of heavy 
artillery and small arms. It continued more than an hour 
before we heard with certainty that General Worth had passed 
down the San Antonio road and was engaged with the enemy 
at the tHe-de-pont, The firing was increased and widely 
spread out as Duncan's field artillery (in General Worth's 
division) with Taylor's battery came into action near Twiggs's 
position. The die was now cast and the critical moment 
had arrived. We must succeed or our army was lost. 

"At about 3 P.M. the critical time was fully upon us, and 
known to be so. All of the available troops on our side had 
been ordered into the fight. No more aid could be given. 
General Quitman had one brigade at San Augustin, but it 
was evident that the day would be decided before any com- 
munication could be had with him. 

"Here is the point at which to pause and consider the 
state of things: Our army numbers not more than 6000 
engaged in the fight; or, besides Quitman's brigade at San 
Augustin, there was a regiment of artillery at Valencia's 
battle-ground in charge of some 900 prisoners and a large 
quantity of artillery and ammunition, and troops were also 
left by Worth at San Antonio. The enemy was very strongly 
fortified in two positions supporting each other with large 
reserves — in all, probably not less than 18,000 men. Worth's 

The Field Reviewed 283 

forces, coming down the road, finally carried the tete-de-pont 
by one of those gallant onsets which have distinguished 
the American army in so many instances, throughout this 
war. Our troops plunged into a wet ditch surrounding the 
enemy's works and, floundering through it, passed over the 
parapet of a regularly constructed work and at the point 
of the bayonet drove the enemy off. Some of the enemy's 
guns were then turned upon the flying Mexicans, and one, in 
particular, was turned upon Churubusco, much the strongest 
work and that against which Twiggs's division had been en- 
gaged about two hours. About the same time Colonel Duncan 
with his light battery took position on the road near the 
tete-de-pont and abreast of Churubusco; and as soon as he 
opened a heavy fire upon the latter place the enemy ceased 
firing and held out a white flag — all of those on the outside, 
who had been engaged with Shields and Pierce, breaking 
and dispersing." 



IN this single day, Scott's army, numbering about 6000 
men, had stormed and captured four forts, defeated 
25,000 men, taken 3000 prisoners, including eight generals 
(two of them ex- Presidents) , killed and wounded 4000 of 
all ranks and captured thirty-seven cannon and much am- 
munition — "more than trebling our siege train and field 
batteries, " says the General in his official report. The diary 
continues the story on August 2 2d. 

"The victory was now complete. Our troops passed 
down the San Antonio road about two miles, until they came 
directly before and in full view of the city of Mexico, and a 
squadron of horse actually charged (up one of the causeways) 
to within twenty yards of the gareta (gate) of the city, and 
was recalled, it not being the intention of the General to go 
into the capital pell-mell. His plan seems to have been from 
the first to put the city in jeopardy and then to summon the 
government either to treat for peace or to surrender. He 
wrote the simimons at San Augustin night before last on our 
return there after the battles, intending to send it into the 
city yesterday morning. Before he sent it, he was met by 
a commissioner, as before narrated. 

"General Scott's summons is to the effect that blood enough 
has been shed, and he expresses his readiness to entertain 
the proposition for an armistice with a view to the considera- 
tion by the Mexican commissioner of the terms which our 
commissioner, Mr. Trist, may have to propose. The Mexican 
commissioner proposed an armistice of twelve months! — 


Scott Summons the City 285 

which General Scott instantly rejected, and his own com- 
munication was then taken to the city of Mexico by the 
Mexican commissioner. 

**In answer to this communication of General Scott com- 
missioners have been appointed by Santa Anna to meet 
commissioners on our side at 4 p.m. to-day to arrange the 
terms of an armistice. And thus matters stand on Aug. 2 2d, 
at 12 noon, the hour at which I am writing. 

**The capital of the Mexican republic is precisely north- 
east from the bishop's palace at Tacubaya, where I am writing, 
and about two and one-half miles distant. Chapultepec is ex- 
actly north of me, about 900 yards — say half a mile. It is an 
isolated elevation of 150 feet, crowned with white, neat-looking 
buildings which constitute a military college. It is defended by 
ditches and artillery, but our engineers say it can readily be 
taken by us, and with our mortars upon that height we should 
command a great part of the city of Montezuma. General 
Scott intends to demand the evacuation of Chapultepec as a 
condition precedent to an armistice, 

**As the Mexicans are notoriously better at negotiation 
than at fighting, our next steps are very important — ^but it 
would seem that the Mexican army is thoroughly beat and 
disorganized if not absolutely dispersed. We could have gone 
into the city night before last, and might go into it to- 
day, but it is better to hold our hands outside of the city to 
give the government an opportunity of treating for peace. 
If we go into the city we drive out the only government — 
that of Santa Anna — ^with which a peace can be made. 

* ' Half past 5 P.M., Aug. 2 2 , at Tacubaya. The commission- 
ers to discuss or determine the question of an armistice have 
just assembled. They were to meet at 4 o'clock, but some 
delays have occurred, I think on our side. General Quitman 
had to come from San Augustin and General Pierce, lamed 
from the fall of his horse, was detained. These two and 
General Smith are the three commissioners on our side. 

**This morning a Mexican mail was intercepted, and the 
contents are very striking. The mail was for Morelia, some 
sixty leagues towards the north, and left the capital this 
morning with many letters written yesterday, the 21st, the 
day of the principal fights. They all show the extreme 

286 Fifty Years in Camp and Field 

desperation to which the Mexican cause is reduced. Some 
of them contain expressions of almost piercing despair. Some 
are full of complaints — against the Mexican officers and the 
army generally, against Santa Anna, against Valencia, etc. 
But the most important items are allusions to the proposed 
armistice, showing that the Mexicans hope by means of it 
to gain time to collect their scattered forces and still defend 
the city; though they say that we could now be in the city 
if we had pleased. I have showed the principal letters on 
this point to General Smith, one of our commissioners. The 
most candid of the letters, to all appearances, state that the 
Mexican army was 30,000 strong; that Valencia had 5000 men 
with him at the village of Contreras (where General Smith 
defeated him); that General Santa Anna had 12,000 in his 
neighborhood for the support of Valencia, but gave him no 
support; that the remnant of the Mexican army does not 
exceed 8000 (some say less) ; that their best troops and nearly 
all of their artillery have been lost." 

These forty-five private letters were shortly printed, with 
a six-page introduction by Colonel Hitchcock. They are 
filled with lamentations of woe and reproaches of cowardice 
against the Mexican army: **God will pity our misery." 
'* This must be a curse of Heaven.'* *' Trust in God and He 
will take care of us." "The temples were full of Mexicans 
praying to God for a triumph of our arms." "We are in the 
last struggles of the drowned." "Beloved Cantita: God 
permits things to go to a certain point in order to undeceive 
us, and then sends consolation. The Eternal and Incom- 
prehensible will protect us." "The God of Heaven alone 
can save us. His Divine Majesty has sent these devils to 
punish us for our sins. " "God seems to have written against 
us the words of the feast of Belshazzar. " " Shame ! Shame ! ' ' 
"Cowardice! Corruption!" "Santa Anna is generally ac- 
cused of treason. " **They say Santa Anna has been bribed ! " 
All these extracts from several letters seem very incoherent; 
but if the frenzied populace had known of the appropriation 
of a million dollars of American money to the secret fund 
at Puebla on July i6th, for the use of Santa Anna, they would 
doubtless have hanged that gentleman before our troops 
entered the capital. 

Rival Mexican Generals 287 

"Tacubaya, Aug. 26, a.m. The armistice was agreed to 
and copies exchanged the day before yesterday. Rumors 
fly in all directions and of all kinds. The most important 
seem to be the state of parties among the Mexicans — ^not 
merely in their capital, but everywhere. We hear that Valen- 
cia has 'pronounced,* as they call it, against Santa Anna; 
that Paredes has returned, landing at Vera Cruz incognito, 
and is now associating with Canalizo at Atlixco, plotting against 
Santa Anna; that Almonte is out against him, and one other 
whose name I do not remember. ^ On the other hand, Busta- 
mente is said to have arrived at the capital with 4000 men, 
but no one knows where he or they came from. From all 
we hear at head -quarters one might think Santa Anna is 
really willing to enter into terms with us, but that the differ- 
ent factions in the country will oppose it, not from patriotism 
but from fear that the pecuniary benefits as well as power 
may accrue altogether to Santa Anna. 

** While I write I am struck with the magnificence of the 
morning, as the majestic sun rises clear nearly in front of 
my window, through which I have Chapultepec in full illu- 
mination, with the city of Montezuma a little to the right. 
Vegetation under my window exceedingly rich; many fruits: 
apples, not very good ; very good peaches and fine bananas. 
Green peas for dinner yesterday; com always in season. 
What a country to dream in ! 

"Tacubaya, Aug. 27, a.m. Yesterday an attempt was 
made by us to send into Mexico a considerable wagon-train 
to bring out supplies (especially specie, to be furnished by 
capitalists upon drafts on the U. S. Government, by our pay- 
masters, quartermasters, and commissioners) . The train was 
turned back at the gar eta (city gate,) but immediately fol- 
lowing its return hither a Mexican officer came with apol- 
ogies from Santa Anna, and some misunderstanding being 
admitted, the thing passed over. No other attempt was made 
yesterday, but to-day another trial is being undertaken. 
If Santa Anna allows specie to come to this army, he either 
intends to make peace or he fears our power to enter the 
city with arms. The specie we expect to obtain is said to 

» On this day Colonel Hitchcock found among the multitude of Scott's 
prisoners of war twenty-nine generals! 

288 Fifty Years in Camp and Field 

be buried or hid in the city; otherwise it would probably have 
been seized before this time. 

"Yesterday towards evening a white flag came from 
Santa Anna announcing the appointment of commissioners to 
meet our commissioner, Mr. Trist, on the subject of peace 
and appointing this village as the place of meeting. To 
assemble at 4 p.m. to-day — ^an odd hour. ... At one mo- 
ment yesterday I almost thought the armistice at an end. 
Several persons came in, about the same time, and re- 
ported that the Mexicans were at work on their batteries at 
the garetas, and something was said about forces coming 
into the city — all contrary to the terms of the armistice. 
It was about 3 p.m. The General was very much excited 
and he declared that if they violated one article of the armis- 
tice there was no reason why he should observe the article 
requiring 'two days' notice from either party to terminate 
it. He sent for persons to inquire into the facts alleged, and 
at the same time directed his Adjutant-General to notify 
the commanders of divisions to be in readiness to move upon 
the city. The General intended to notify Santa Anna that 
the armistice, being broken by him, was at an end, and 
then plunge upon the city. But in a short time an intel- 
ligent Englishman came in, directly from the city, by the 
nearest gar eta, and contradicted the stories. To-day will be 
a test day. If specie comes — ^well. 

"12 M. Reports are coming in that our wagon-train in 
the city has been attacked by the populace and that three 
wagoners have been killed with stones from the house-tops. 
Those who hear the reports cry out, 'Let 's go into the city 
at once!' but the General will wait for very certain intel- 
ligence, and if Santa Anna endeavors to protect the train 
he may not consider the case desperate. All cities are liable 
to popular excitements. Two of the commissioners it appears 
are Generals Herrera and Mora, and it is impossible that 
Santa Anna could have better showed a sincere disposition 
for peace than by the appointment of these men. Still, 
affairs are in a very critical state. 

"Tacubaya, Aug. 28 — morning — and a splendid morning 
it is. But our affairs are very much darkened. Yesterday 
assurances came, and they were perfectly satisfactory, that 

A White Flag from Santa Anna 289 

Santa Anna and the government, so to speak, did all they 
could to suppress the disorders in the city; but at night it 
became equally certain that there is not power in the govern- 
ment sufficient to restrain the mob, which, it appears, is 
exasperated at the idea of our wagons coming into the Grand 
Plaza of the capital of Mexico — ^where, nevertheless, they 
did go. 

"It is true, they did not load. They were advised by 
a Mexican general officer that it would be prudent to with- 
draw and take their loading outside of the city. They with- 
drew accordingly, but our agents found it impossible to hire 
a single cart or any other means of taking anything from 
the city, where we have both bacon and flour already ours 
by contract. As to money, we expected to obtain yesterday 
at least $300,000; and that only as a beginning. Instead 
of this, Mr. Hargous, the agent, came out about 11 p.m. and 
brought with him in a private carriage in the night $12,000 
in silver, $2000 in gold, and a draft on San Angel for $7000 
($21,000). This hardly equals a day's expenses. Mr. H. 
represents the popular excitement as intense, and says they 
had a regular plan to let the wagons load up and then attack 
them. This was fortunately frustrated, but it leaves our 
affairs in a very bad state, and may compel the General to 
break off negotiations and break into the city, 

"Tacubaya, Aug. 29, a.m. Yesterday the commissioners 
had their second meeting, and in the evening our commissioner 
returned well satisfied with indications, saying that the Mexican 
commissioners had used the most special endeavors to con- 
vince him of the good faith of the Mexican Government in 
the matter of the armistice, and that the mob in the city 
(attack on our wagons) was wholly unlooked-for and deeply 
regretted, etc., etc. There is to be no meeting to-day, but 
to-morrow, Monday, the commissioners are to have full 
powers to treat for peace. 

**In the afternoon, however, Mr. TurnbuU, an English 
merchant, called upon General Scott after coming through the 
city of Mexico, and he assured the General that, according 
to well-founded opinions in Mexico, Santa Anna would require, 
as a sine qua non, that the Nueces should be the boundary. 
If so, no peace can be had. 

290 Fifty Years in Camp and Field 

"Aug. 30, 6 P.M. A brilliant sunset in the west submerges 
the city of Montezuma. The city seems full of spires and 
domes and very white. Clouds rest upon the mountains 
bounding the valley of Mexico, so that Popocatapetl is not 

* * Tacubaya, Aug. 3 1 . The last day of Summer. Morning, 
and indescribably beautiful. The sun is brilliantly rising, 
the atmosphere is bland, and all is quiet. Birds are singing. 
Mountains distinctly visible. 

"Public affairs in a very critical state. We hear that 
the fragments of Santa Anna's army brought together make 
a force of some 18,000 men, more than double our army. 
'T is said that he reviewed his army yesterday, and it made 
an imposing show. Our agent has brought from the city 
$151,000 in specie and a considerable quantity of rations. 
This has been done under an article of the armistice, and our 
people engaged in it in the city are under the protection of a 
Mexican guard. When was anything of the sort ever before 
known in the history of war? 

"The commissioners did not meet yesterday, but our 
commissioner was not displeased at it. He tells me that the 
British consul comes to see him, and thus a communication 
is kept up, and he thinks the outlook favorable to peace. 
We hear, however, that the Mexican states are declaring 
against a peace: no matter, if Santa Anna chooses to make 
one. Our commissioner is authorized to pay out at once 
three millions, and this will enable Santa Anna to pay his 
army and thus hold him in power. Besides, more money 
is to be paid, we hear, on the ratification of the treaty. 

"Tacubaya, Sept. i, 1847. 1"^^ ^^st day of Fall. Yester- 
day was consecrated to rumors. It was said that a forage 
party, escorted by a squadron of dragoons, was cut off by 
the enemy near Toluca. It was said that the enemy in the 
city had been hard at work on the fortifications, contrary 
to the terms of the armistice. It was said that several thou- 
sand additional troops had arrived there, and one 24-pounder. 
It was said that the principal generals of the Mexican army 
had had a secret meeting for the purpose of opposing Santa 
Anna and the peace. 

"The dragoon report turns out to be false and the govern- 

Failure of Negotiations 291 

ment of Toluca particularly civil. The fortifications story- 
is denied by some who have seen the places where the work 
is said to have been done. The troop story ends in this: 
that about 400 of Valencia's dispersed soldiers found their 
way back to the city; and if they have not come * 30 leagues* 
it is not a violation of the armistice. The * secret meeting* 
was a called meeting at which Santa Anna presided, the par- 
ticulars of which he reported indirectly to our commissioner 
last evening by means of the British consul. 

*'Tacubaya, Sept. 2, a.m. The peace stock rose somewhat 
yesterday evening when our commissioner came home, with 
Major Van Buren^ who is a kind of associate (silent) commis- 
sioner, by request of General Scott and perhaps Mr. T. They 
were in very good humor and expressed strong hopes, but did 
not state the grounds of it. This morning, however, the 
supply-agent, Mr. Hargous, came out of town exceedingly 
embittered. He brought $175,000 in silver and about 100 
mule-loads of provision ; but he says that a party of Mexicans 
broke into his supply store last night and robbed him exten- 
sively. He thinks there can be no peace. 

"3d Sept., A.M., and the peace prospects have diminished. 
No new facts are known, but Mr. Trist came home last evening 
evidently dispirited and unusually fatigued, and his appear- 
ance is a kind of thermometer to us. 

** 4th Sept. Yesterday there was no meeting of the com- 
missioners, Mr. Trist giving the Mexicans a day to consider 
an important point. So Major Van Buren told me, but did 
not tell me the point. If the comrs. meet to-day an important 
step may be taken one way or the other — for peace or war. 

"Tacubaya, Sept. 5th, a.m. General Scott broke up house- 
keeping, so to speak, the day before yesterday, and the bish- 
op's palace was assigned as quarters for a regiment. 

*'3 p.m. Reports last evening and this morning are most 
decidedly opposed to peace. It is said that a council in the 
city has decided to reject the propositions of our government ; 
and Gen. Scott says that, should such a decision be annoimced^ 
he will give notice to terminate the armistice to Mr. Trist, 
to be delivered to-morrow at the meeting of the commrs. 

**This is a matter of sincere regret, be the consequences 

» Abraham, son of Martin Van Buren. 

292 Fifty Years in Camp and Field 

what they may. I never was in favor of this war, and have 
hoped, within a few days, that the end of it was near. I have 
not relied much on it, though. The pride of this people is 
very great, and that pride has been wounded: this will 
probably go further to continue the war than any injustice 
of which they complain. 

** 6th Sept., A.M. The elements of war seem entirely upper- 
most. To-day the refusal of the Mexican Government to 
accept the terms of peace proposed through our commissioner 
will be, it is expected, made known; and our commissioner 
is to be provided with a notice from our General terminating 
the armistice, the notice to be handed to the Mexican com- 
missioners at the conclusion of the conference. Two days 
must then expire, at the end of which time hostilities are to 

"3 P.M. It may be taken for granted that the armistice 
is at an end, though this is not yet officially pronounced. 
Our money agent, who has brought out some $450,000, had 
yet nearly $300,000 ready to come out, but the Mexican au- 
thorities have, on various pretexts, prevented its leaving dur- 
ing three days past — ever since they knew of the ultimatum of 
Mr. Trist. The agent came out of the city himself this morn- 
ing and brought $15,000 clandestinely, and states that he 
has distributed the balance among friends in the city for 
safety. He thinks he may get out a few more thousands 
this afternoon, but it is uncertain. Meantime, General Scott 
has given notice of the termination of the armistice on the 
ground that it has been violated by the Mexicans fortifying, 
contrary to the articles of the armistice, and in detaining 
our supplies, also contrary, etc., etc. The General has given 
the Mexican Government till noon to-morrow for any expla- 
nations it may have to make. Meantime, also, the respective 
commissioners are in session — or were an hour ago. 

"This place, Tacubaya, is within a mile of Chapultepec 
and of course under fire from that hill. On the renewal of 
hostilities, therefore, we must immediately take that place 
and remove from this. It is said to be furnished with a 
system of mines. 

"Half past 9, P.M. (6th Sept., Monday), and I have just 
come from the General's — the second time since 3 o'clock. 

Armistice at an End 2^3 

About 4 o'clock he announced to the generals of division and 
heads of staff corps that the negotiations for a peace had 
terminated and that nothing had been effected — ^the Mexican 
Government refusing to admit the ultimatum of our commis- 
sioner, Mr. Trist. He also informed us that he had sent a 
note to President Santa Anna to the effect that the Mexican 
Government having, in (specified) instances, violated the 
terms of the armistice, he. General Scott, was at liberty to 
consider it at an end without giving notice, but being willing, 
etc., he gave until 12 m. to-morrow for explanations, denials, 
or apologies, in the absence of which he should consider the 
armistice terminated from and after that hour. 

''This evening the General called some of us together, 
including Capt. Robert E. Lee (engineer), to consider the 
best mode of threatening and attacking the city, — to deter- 
mine the depot for the sick, wounded, supplies, etc. If the 
enemy does not assault us and force us on the defensive, we 
shall, in about three days, I think, have made a serious demon- 
stration upon him. We have less than 8000 men: he has 
about 18,000 or perhaps 20,000 — ^the remains of his army 
of 30,000. He is said to have seventy pieces of cannon; 
our General doubts it, but these Mexicans are always provi- 
dent in artillery. We have captured upwards of six hundred 
(600) pieces of artillery since we landed at Vera Cruz. 

**Mr. Trist said, this afternoon, that when he stated to 
the Mexican commissioners this afternoon the opinion of 
General Scott that the Mexican Government had violated the 
armistice, not one of them denied the fact. One of them 
said that if it was true General Scott's indignation was well 
grounded, and he assured Mr. Trist that they, the commis- 
sioners, had from the first urged upon the government the 
great importance and necessity of strictly adhering to its 

" 7th Sept., A.M., and contrary to the expectation of some 
there was no firing upon us last night. We, at Tacubaya, 
are all under the guns of Chapultepec, nearly a mile distant. 
But the big guns will soon be heard. It is now two minutes 
of 12 noon, the time fixed by the General for terminating 
the armistice. I have just dismounted at my quarters (the 
house of a foreign consul) having been out riding with General 

294 Fifty Years in Camp and Field 

Scott, 'looking around.' I joined him at his quarters soon 
after breakfast when information came that the enemy was 
in motion in large bodies passing around Chapultepec, prob- 
ably with an intention of striking this division on its left 
flank, while Chapultepec opens its batteries on our front. 

''General Worth *s division is here; General Pillow's division 
is at Misquake (or some such-named place) 4 miles towards 
San Angel ; General Twiggs's division is at San Angel, 6 miles 
from here ; while General Quitman's division is at San Augus- 
tin, 1 2 or 13 miles off. The orders last evening were to remove 
the sick and wounded to Misquaki, but no order was given 
to move the divisions. This morning, when General Worth 
reported the movements of the enemy, he was disposed to 
put his division at once under arms, and order up the other 
divisions — ^but General Scott said: 'No. Let us look around 
first and see what the enemy is doing.' He then sent some 
officers out to look at the enemy and ordered his own horse 
saddled. We mounted and rode a few hundred yards, when 
he met a communication from General Santa Anna in answer 
to his note of last evening. 

"The General returned to quarters and read the answer. 
In it Santa Anna denies the allegation that 'new' fortifica- 
tions have been begun and says the work is only that of 
'repairs.' (He says nothing of the parties working by night 
and not by day.) He charges upon General Scott a violation 
of the armistice in not allowing flour from certain mills to 
go into the city. The case is this : When we arrived here, 
and before the armistice was signed, the General took pos- 
session, as a lawful act of war, of all the grain in certain mills 
here at Tacubaya, and ordered the miller to grind it, paying, 
however, for the grain and for his services. The grain was 
still being groimd when the armistice was signed, and the 
General did not think the signing it affected his arrangements. 



THE armistice was obviously at an end. All efforts to 
arrive at a permanent peace had failed. Recrimina- 
tions on both sides produced increasing irritations. 
The war must go on. The capital could not be taken without 
another battle. This conclusion General Scott amved at as 
he rode over the field across which the enemy had fled towards 
the capital, and he resolved to continue the contest by cap- 
turing an old vast building, a quarter of a mile long, which 
was called a mill and was alleged to conceal a foundry at 
the base of the hill and fortress of Chapultepec. The decision 
involved a badly directed and unfortimate battle which ought 
not to have been fought at all, and was thereafter to be known 
by the name of Molino del Rey, the King's Mill. 

"After reading Santa Anna's answer and commenting 
orally upon it, the General rode up. to the bishop's palace — 
one of the most elevated points about us, and, inspecting 
the position of the enemy and considering the information 
received last evening that some church bells had been taken 
down to make into cannon, he concluded that the movement 
of the enemy was not aggressive but defensive. The foundry 
is near Chapultepec, but farther from the city. The enemy's 
left appeared at the foundry and the General concluded that 
the movement had the double object of covering the foimdry 
and also Chapultepec. Returning to his quarters it was 
reported to him that a force of some sort was moving out on 
the San Angel road. This he considered a mere party of 
^observation. This was about i past 1 1 a.m. 


296 Fifty Years in Camp and Field 

"3 P.M. At I, I was at the General's. He read to me 
his order for massing the troops by to-morrow noon. Quit- 
man and Twiggs are ordered to Misquoique, but a brigade 
is this afternoon to threaten the city by the Piedad route 
(between San Antonio and the Chapultepec route), and to- 
night Worth, with his division and one brigade of Pillow's 
is to attack and destroy the foundry. Thus matters now stand. 
The foundry is under the guns of Chapultepec, and its destaic- 
tion by daylight might be very difficult if not impossible 
without first silencing the commanding guns. Hence it is to 
be attempted to-night. So the orders contemplate. 

*'6 P.M. I am alone in the extensive garden attached to 
the house of the consul, in which I am quartered. I look 
upon the great variety of fruits and flowers in vast abundance 
and luxuriance, and I ask why the monster-genius of war is 
allowed to pollute such scenes. 

**I have often entered my protest against this war, and 
to-day I hear, from very good authority, that our commissioner 
has said that if he were a Mexican he would die before he 
would agree to the terms proposed by the United States. 
He ought, then, to have refused the mission he has under- 
taken. A degrading proposition is alike dishonorable to him 
who proposes as to him to whom it is proposed. 

"Wednesday, 8th Sept., 9 a.m. I have just returned 
from the field of battle. It has been a severe one. A very 
large part of the enemy's force was found in position to the 
west and north of Chapultepec. There is no estimating the 
extent of the force. Some of our people think there could 
not be less than 15,000 men, but this must be an exaggeration. 
Their line, entrenched or else covered with maguey (agave) 
or by buildings, including one hacienda, extended for about 
a mile. Our principal object of assault was a building sup- 
posed to be a foundry. Strange to say, our information turned 
out to be false. The building was captured, but no foundry 
was discovered. It seems it has been a foundry, but is no 
longer in use. We took the whole line of works from Cha- 
pultepec, but no attempt was made upon Chapultepec itself. 
We took several pieces of cannon, and several hundred prison- 
ers, including prominent officers. . . . The fight began at day- 
light (about 5 o'clock), and terminated about 7 or half past." 

Bloody Mistake of Worth 297 

The remainder of the diary record of this day consists 
chiefly of the names of friends who had been killed or mortally 
wounded, and a lamentation that the battle had been fought 
under a misapprehension of facts and disadvantageous con- 
ditions. The chronicler thinks that it was not only unskilfully 
directed but badly conceived and that it was ''a sad mistake. '* 
** Captain Chapman came out in command of the 5th Infantry. 
He waved his hand towards the remains of his regiment and 
said, with tears in his eyes, 'There 's the Fifth!' It did not 
extend much beyond the front of an ordinary company.'* 
As usual, the diarist tells us little of his own professional 
services to the troops, but as Inspector-General of the army 
he was constantly responsible for its efficiency in action. 
His bearing and activity in the field had already attracted 
such attention at Washington that he had been brevetted 
colonel on Aug. 20th, *'for gallant and meritorious conduct 
in the battles of Contreras and Churubusco"; and in his 
official report of this battle of Molino del Rey, General Scott 
said, **I also had the valuable services, on the same field, of 
several officers of my staff: Lieutenant-Colonel Hitchcock, 
Acting Inspector-General," etc. . 

''J past II P.M. I lay down early, at 8, fatigued and 
somewhat weighed down with sorrow, and fell asleep, but 
have waked, supposing it near morning, but, lighting a candle, 
find it is not yet midnight. There is general grief in the 
army, both for the loss of so many valuable men and because 
of the manner of it. The enemy's extreme left rested on 
timber at the base of Chapultepec; passing towards the right 
there was a large mill, fortified; then on the right there was 
a fortified hacienda, the whole line extending a mile. Our 
prisoners say there were 8000 men on the line: we made 
the fight with 4000. But the attack on the hacienda is what 
is so grievous. The 5th and 6th Infantry were blindly ordered 
to charge it in the face of a most destructive fire, and when 
it was impossible to get into it without scaling ladders, or a 
breach, it was foimd that no ladders or battering guns had 
been provided for use on the instant; and while waiting 
a terrible loss of life was needlessly sustained. After this 
loss had occurred the battery was applied and the enemy 
fled. If it had been first applied, the enemy would have 

298 Fifty Years in Camp and Field 

been driven, and we need not have lost perhaps a dozen men 
at the hacienda. This is the statement of the surviving 
officers of the 5th Infantry. It is considered here that General 
Worth made the assault blindly. Although we have taken 
six pieces of artillery — ^all the enemy had on the field — and 
48 officers and 632 men prisoners, still we regret the work 
of the day. On Aug. 20th, we were like Hannibal after the 
battle of Cannae: we could have gone into the capital but 
did not (but I approve of this). On Sept. 8th, we were like 
Pyrrhus after the fight with Fabricius — a, few more such 
victories and this army would be destroyed. 

** 9th Sept., A.M. I passed an imcomfortable night. Could 
not help regretting the events of yesterday. The whole 
expedition was committed to General Worth by General Scott. 
In the evening before the fight General W. sent a copy of his 
order of arrangement to General Scott. To this General Scott 
made, indeed, no objection, but General W. was not present to 
develop his idea and nothing was said of one point exceedingly 
ill-judged. As the object of the enterprise was the destruction 
of a certain building supposed to be a foundry, Gen. W. 
ordered an assaulting column of ' veterans, ' as he called them 
(500 men), to be selected from the division. The effect was 
to separate officers from their men, to bring into the same 
conflict, side by side, men who did not know each other, and, 
above all, to separate men from their colors — a very serious 
matter, for every regiment has its own name and its own 
glory under its own flag. Now it is remarkable that this 
assaulting column of veterans was broken in its charge upon 
the enemy and about 150 men absolutely ran about 100 
yards before they could be rallied. But the remnants of 
the same regiments charged the hacienda, equally well or 
better defended, without any break at all. 

''Tacubaya, Sept. 10, a.m. J past 6. A horrible scene is 
being enacted at San Angel about this present moment. We 
took about eighty prisoners at Churubusco who were deserters 
from our army; as many as seemed to have an excuse had 
their ptmishment commuted to fifty lashes; the remaining 
twenty are now being hanged. 

"Yesterday the General with two aids and Captain Lee 
and myself went to the Piedad and passed arotind a circle 

Assault on Chapultepec 299 

of several miles, returning by way of Miscoaque. The enemy 
is anticipating an attack from Piedad and we found immense 
activity among them in fortifying. They are certainly won- 
derfully active, and if their defence were equal to their pre- 
paration, they would do themselves credit. The General 
was, I thought, disappointed at finding such extensive works 
prepared and preparing, and would have struck a blow at 
once, but the several divisions of his army were not in position 
for it, and the sick, wounded, and supplies had to be secured. 
Reports give great numbers and enthusiasm to the Mexicans 
and the affair of day before yesterday will give them great 

**ii A.M. A slight drizzling rain. Our engineers have 
gone out: Lee with Colonel Harney to adopt the best mode 
of protecting our depot at Miscoac; Beauregard, Steevens, 
and Tower to look at the positions on the San Angel and 
Piedad road to the capital, on which the enemy is working 
with infinite zeal. Captain Hardee, 2d Dragoons, is ordered 
out around Chapultepec as if to find the route that way in 
the hope of diverting the enemy. On the whole, our affairs 
are just now as little promising as they have been at any 
time. I have had little hope of a peace, and have constantly 
had some lurking doubts of the English interest, supposed 
to be in our favor — ^not at all of the British Minister or his 
secretary, Mr. Thornton, but of the prime actor, Consul- 
General Mcintosh. He and one of his English agents, Turnbull, 
have both married Mexican women, and we know that he 
has advanced Santa Anna money for the support of his army 
at the very time when he was holding out hopes of peace to 
detain us at Puebla. His object was to gain time for Santa 
Anna to raise, equip, and discipline his troops and provide 
himself with cannon. He, too, procured the armistice after 
the decisive battle of the 20th, at which time a single division 
of our army could have marched into the city with little or 
no loss. 

** Near 2 p.m. I have been much with the General this 
morning, and am sorry to see that he is irritable — a sign that 
things do not go on to his mind. When prosperous, he is 
pleasant and good-hubiored, extremely kind and civil, but 
when his affairs seem unpromising he is rather harsh upon 

300 Fifty Years in Camp and Field 

those around him, especially his young aides de camp. He is 
then apt to be abrupt and cuts off persons in the midst of 
what they are saying — indeed, his tmcomfortability diffuses 
itself all around him. 

"Tacubaya, nth Sept., a.m., finds us much as we were 
yesterday. Our engineers report the enemy strongly covered 
with artificial defences, and we hear that Alvarez with 4000 
men is in our rear at San Augustin, where General Quitman 
was with his division two days ago. Our force, the General 
says, is 2000 less than when we left Puebla, including many 
fine officers, killed or wotmded. We had from Puebla about 
10,300 in all. 

"10 A.M., and it is rumored that Valencia is to be to-day 
at Santa Fe (two leagues from here) with 3000 infantry 
and 5,000 cavalry from Toluca. But a few days ago we heard 
that his force did not exceed 400 men, and these had left 
him and joined Santa Anna. And, besides, it was said that 
Valencia was deranged and obliged to be confined — only 
outrageously mad with disappointment, I suppose. 

"The preparations for defence on our right have become 
so formidable, considering the bad ground from which we 
must assault them, that the General has this morning almost 
concluded to strike at Chapultepec in earnest. I think he 
will do it. We are in a critical position. I cannot help 
recalling Kleber's position in Egypt, and we may be obliged 
to attack Mexico as he attacked Cairo, and work in by inches. 

"5 P.M., and many incidents have occurred. Can only 
chronologize the leading facts: there are now two principal 
points of attack before us — the gareta of San Antonio on 
the right and Chapultepec on the left. Supposing we meant 
to strike at the gareta, the enemy has been expending im- 
mense labor upon field-works commanding all the approaches. 
These are all cut by ditches in every direction for purposes 
of cultivation. The place is not only strong by recent works, 
but strong by nature. 

"The General rode over to the vicinity of the gareta this 
morning and held a long council with the general officers, 
finally deciding, himself, to strike at Chapultepec to-morrow. 
Orders were given on the spot so far as preliminary movements 
are concerned. 

Capture of the Citadel 301 

'* General Twiggs's division is to appear before the gar eta 
in order to keep the Mexican troops there, while heavy bat- 
teries are to be directed against Chapultepec, to be put into 
position to-night for that purpose. The other three divisions 
are to be used as circumstances require. The General said 
he would order up some of Twiggs's division if an assault 
becomes necessary. This is a very important decision. If 
we carry Chapultepec, well; if we fail or suffer great loss, 
there is no telling the consequences. We have seen cannon 
firing this morning west of Tacubaya: the enemy's cavalry 
was driven in. There was also apparently firing at our depot 
at Miscoac. I suppose the enemy knows of the General's 
going over to the gareta and is trying to divert his attention. 

"12th Sept., 5 A.M. I am at the General's quarters expect- 
ing every moment to hear our guns directed upon Chapultepec. 
The General is yet asleep in the next room. I confess that 
I am not without anxiety about the result of the enterprise 
on foot. Both Major Smith and Captain Lee, though the 
latter favored the plan yesterday morning, expressed in the 
afternoon some doubt whether our guns could do more than 
demolish the upper part of the building within the main works 
at Chapultepec and thought an assault with scaling ladders 
would be necessary to reduce the place. We must see now, 
for the attack is to be made, come what may. 

**ii P.M. We have had several heavy guns playing upon 
Chapultepec all day with but short intervals, and no impression 
seems to be made upon the main defences. Some shot holes 
appear in the mere building within the works, evidently of 
no importance to our object. There has been some musketry 
firing during the day with pickets and small parties, but, 
although the guns of Chapultepec were directed upon our 
three batteries, we have had only two or three men wounded 
from all causes, except that a reconnoitering party that had 
the temerity to go within 150 yards of the works had eight 
men wounded. 

"This afternoon the General decided upon the necessity 
for an assault, and two assaulting columns, one from Worth's 
division and one from Twiggs's, have been detailed and are 
to be in position by daylight to-morrow morning — one to move 
under the direction of General Pillow and to be supported ( ?) 

302 Fifty Years in Camp and Field 

by his division of raw troops, the other to be directed by- 
General Quitman and supported by his division of ditto. 
The assaulting columns are each about 250 strong, and are 
to be provided with ladders. General Pillow thought this 
morning that there were not more than 500 men in the works. 
I think at least 1500 men will be found there, and possibly 
many more. At the close of the talk this evening, after all was 
arranged, General Worth said to me, 'We shall be defeated'; 
and even General Scott, when all others had left the room, 
said to me, ' I have my misgivings. * General W. thinks an 
effort will be made to-night by the enemy to take or to 
spike our guns in battery. General S. thinks not. 

"Tacubaya, Monday, Sept. 13, 10 p.m., and to-day we 
have taken Chapultepec, and entered the city of Mexico on 
two routes, our troops rushing over a multitude of batteries 
erected with infinite labor and even skill by the Mexicans. 

"I had my misgivings last night — even the General had; 
but to-day the troops have outdone all former achievements 
— imnieasurably so. I thought the fight of the 20th ult. 
unsurpassable, but to-day the troops have done more and 
in even finer style. The taking of Chapultepec, with its 
aged and dignified commander. General Bravo, is now, to 
my apprehension, the event of the war. 

"Chapultepec is an isolated height of perhaps 200 feet, 
fortified with care at the crown or top with escarp walls over 
which our men had to climb with scaling ladders, after 
being obliged to pass woods, batteries, and breastworks filled 
with the enemy. 

"General Scott was on the top of Count Alcortez's house 
in this town (Tacubaya) by about 7 a.m. Our batteries as 
directed opened their fire about 6 o'clock. He sent an order 
about 8 to 'cease firing, ' which was the time fixed upon for 
the two storming parties to advance. He sent me with an 
order for the dragoons to pass around to the north of Chapul- 
tepec, and, as I reached the commander and gave him the 
order, the assaulting parties were in full view going up the 
rugged, stony hill — or, rather, one of them was visible going 
up from the west side — a sight never to be forgotten. I saw 
the colors advance, — saw the bearer shot down. They were 
instantly seized and raised aloft, but the party was apparently 

In the Halls of the Montezumas 303 

checked. It was a moment of intense interest. The reason 
for the temporary halt, as appeared afterwards, was that the 
ladders had not kept up with the head of the party. As soon 
as they came up the walls were mounted, and in about three 
quarters of an hour, or an hour at the farthest, our troops 
were in possession of the entire works. 

**From Chapultepec there are two aqueducts leading to the 
city. General Quitman went down by one and General Worth 
by the other — ^the latter upon the Cosme road. The cause- 
ways by the sides of the aqueducts were defended by a suc- 
cession of breastworks, which were stormed by the resistless 
ardor of our troops, one after another, until ^finally, at dusk, 
the two columns were both in the city, Worth advantageously, 
but Quitman under great disadvantage. Indeed, Quitman 
is in some jeopardy and has met with severe losses. Worth, 
*t is said, has not lost over 15 or 17 men in the city. The 
loss at Chapultepec is universally spoken of as very small, 
but the exact number is not known. The troops have been 
more or less under fire the whole day, but ever3rwhere the 
Mexicans have been driven, defeated, discomfited, and taken 
prisoners. We hold several general officers prisoners, as us- 
ual, a number of colonels, etc., etc. We have also taken 12 
or 15 pieces of cannon. 

**The General calls the fight of the 20th ultimo 'the battle 
of Mexico.* What will he call this of to-day? The fight of 
the 8th inst. has the name of the King*s Mill (Molino del Rey). 
The Mexicans thought that Chapultepec was our object that 
day, but it was not; and they rang the bells in the city for 
victory and no doubt thought that we could not take the 
place. To-day they have had a demonstration of skill, valor, 
perseverance, etc., on the part of our troops, which must 
affect them with astonishment. There is, however, yet much 
to do, and even now, late as it is, I hear every now and then 
the discharge of artillery in the city, which I suppose to be 
from the enemy's guns upon Quitman. Worth has made 
his advance partially by cutting his way with pickaxes directly 
through buildings and by occupying the tops of houses with 
small howitzers by means of which he would drive the enemy 
from the tops of houses in advance of him. " 



DURING the night following this exciting and eventful day- 
General Scott and his staff slept or tried to sleep at 
Tacubaya, while the defeated and demoralized Mexicans 
were seeking refuge in the terrified capital and the victorious 
Americans were following close upon their heels. And in 
that rural retreat, as the noise of the tumult grew faint at 
midnight, the Inspector-General sat at his table and calmly 
wrote the important page of history which closes the last 

"Mexico, Mexico, Sept. 14, 1847. I-'^st night the Mexican 
army withdrew from the city. The City Council sent a depu- 
tation to General Scott, which reached him at Tacubaya about 
daylight this morning, asking him to grant certain terms 
or assurances to the city. He answered (I was present: 
he sent for me) that he would sign no paper on the subject 
until he should be in the capital, but he went on to give them 
(the three deputies) assurances of a disposition to protect all 
unoffending inhabitants, etc., etc. We took an early break- 
fast and, mounting our horses, rode to Chapultepec and along 
the causeway thence to the San Cosm6 causeway, and so on 
into the city, and at 

"9 A.M., rode into the court-yard of the palace. Dis- 
mounting and ascending the grand staircase, the General 
and his staff were in the only building that can be called the 
Halls of the Montezumas, being the national palace built 
by the Spaniards. The grand plaza is in front of me, the 
great cathedral on my right. My attention is called off by 


Firing in Streets and Houses 305 

the continual firing in different parts of the city — ^musketry 
and artillery. 

* ' The Mexican soldiers have left the city, but the populace 
is attempting what has often been threatened. Before the Gen- 
eral entered, and while General Worth was leading his troops 
towards the plaza. Colonel Garland was badly shot by a Mex- 
ican from a window. The house was instantly fired upon by 
our artillery and since then there is firing in the streets and 
houses all around us. Many Mexicans have been put to death 
and it is easy to see that a most serious state of things may 
result. Our people, however, have cleared the streets in sight 
from the palace, and, as the buildings in every direction are 
closed, the city reminds me of one described in the Arabian 
Nights which, in a single night, was statued, so to say — ex- 
cepting, indeed, that our people under arms are seen and our 
guns disturb the silence. 

**5 P.M. and I rejoice that night may bring some quiet. 
There has been a constant firing and whizzing of balls around 
us all day, and it is growing worse. I have been to the City 
Council and have threatened, in the name of the General 
and by his order, that he would destroy the city and give it 
up to pillage if the firing does not cease. I have earnestly 
recommended to the General the immediate concentration 
of our troops, and a positive order to cease firing except in 
the clearest case of self-defence. I saw an unarmed Mexican 
deliberately shot a few moments since, and I thought it hor- 
rible. I have since been told that the Mexican had soldier's 
pantaloons on, but I did not see them. 

"15th Sept., A.M. (8), and there is but little firing this 
morning. It almost altogether ceased last night, when our 
soldiers were drawn together and kept in their quarters. 
The Mexicans are passing along the streets, but not many, 
and I found some market people in their places. I met one 
of the City Council, preceded by the bearer of a white flag; 
he had been out to order and beseech the people to keep 

**I suppose also that the clergy have been at work, for 
I met one of them at the cathedral and directed him to tell 
the bishop that if the people did not cease firing the General 
would batter down the city and give it over to plunder, and 


3o6 Fifty Years in Camp and Field 

further, that the churches and church property would share 
the fate of the city. The scoundrel! I found him ensconced 
in a secure place, and when I began telling him that the clergy 
must exert themselves, he shrugged his shoulders and said 
something about his * humility ' and that he had no influence ; 
but I waked him up when I talked of the destruction of the 
churches and property, and he promised to do all he could. " ^ 

"Mexico, Sept. 19, 1847, J past 6 p.m., and I have taken 
a seat in my new quarters. The General was uncomfortable 
in the palace at Vera Cruz; uncomfortable in the governor's 
house at Jalapa, nor less so in the government house at Puebla ; 
and he found himself very uncomfortable in the National 
Palace in this city. He has therefore moved again: himself 
yesterday and his staff to-day. I am with two other members 
of the staff at the house of a Spaniard, No. 10, Calle Something 
(Capuchinas.) It will do. The city is very quiet and if 
reports can be relied on Santa Anna has resigned the presi- 
dency and is making his way to the coast for the purpose 
of leaving the country. The Mexican army is said to be re- 
duced to 4000 and these are at Toluca under General Herrera. 
Congress, 't is said, is to assemble at Quer6taro in a few weeks. 

"I had an interview with the head of the church this 
morning, and gave him some plain talk from the General 
for not opening the churches. He has promised to open them 
to-morrow morning at 6 o'clock. To-day is Sunday. The 
streets are filled with people, and, as confidence is being 
restored, many of the inhabitants who left the city are already 

'*2oth Sept. Monday, a.m., and at length the cathedral 
is open. I have been within it. There is a great deal of 
gaudy magnificence, but it looks old, like every other expen- 
sive work in this country. The Spaniards were certainly 

» Col. Hitchcock was immensely active during the first days of occupation. 
He procured the issue of an order to close the drinking and gambling saloons 
and then enforced it himself; and years later, receiving from a surgeon a 
delinquent receipt for money turned in to him, he wrote on the receipt: 
"I remember breaking up a gambling- table established by a follower of 
the American army in the very palace in the city of Mexico on the 14th 
of September — the very day we entered. I overthrew the table with my 
own hands and dispersed the vagabonds about it, and then picked up some 
money, which I turned over to the sick and wounded. " 

Mexican Officers Paroled 307 

a magnificent people and did everything on a grand scale. 
The Mexicans have done nothing but quarrel among them- 
selves, and their quarrels have been contemptible. The 
firing in the city when we entered it, the 14th, was said by 
some to resemble that attending one of their revolutions; 
but our people in a single day killed more Mexicans in the 
streets than fell during an entire three weeks of one of their 
domestic wars. Perhaps it will keep the people still. 

"Mexico, Sept., 24. The city continues quiet amid rumors 
of insurrection. Attacks on Puebla to be expected. 

"Mexico, Sept. 26. Trouble about prisoners. We had 
1 01 officers prisoners, held under the surveillance of a guard. 
Last night all escaped but about a dozen. Of our 3000 pris- 
oners since the 20th of August, more than half have escaped. 
We have no adequate means of security, without treating 
them like convicts. . . . The centre of Mexican military 
activity is now said to be at Puebla, whence we have the 
most elaborate and contradictory rumors. 

"Mexico, Sept. 30. . . . During the last three days I 
have been receiving the paroles of Mexican officers found 
in this city. A proclamation from the governor required 
all Mexican officers to report to my office, and I have a list 
of over 150. I confined two in close prison for refusing to 
give their paroles. One funny case occurred, where a nicely 
dressed and fashionable-looking man was reluctant to have 
it appear that he had surrendered himself in the city, but. 
wished to have it recorded that he had been captured in battle, 
either at Churubusco or Chapultepec — no matter which. I 
was amused more than offended and finally told the man 
(he had the rank of colonel, with the brevet of general of 
brigade) that he might write his parole himself. He did 
so, representing that he had been taken prisoner at Chapul- 
tepec! Vanity of vanities! ^ 

"Mexico, Oct. 2, 1847. An earthquake this morning — 
the first I was ever sensible of. I felt myself rolling on my 
bed, and, springing up and running to a front window, there, 
sure enough! every Mexican was on his knees on the side- 
walk and street. There was a priest praying on his knees 

1 Among the papers left by General Hitchcock is a list of thirty-three 
generals paroled by him at this time. 

3o8 Fifty Years in Camp and Field 

in the middle of the street in front of my window. You 
contemptible rascal! thinks I; your superstition, so imposing 
upon common people, cannot protect you from the fear of 
a common danger, A few of our American soldiers were 
standing and looking upon the scene. " 

The diarist could still philosophize, but if he could ward 
off superstition there were other ills to which his citadel of 
life was pregnable. Although the city is 1200 feet higher 
than the top of Mount Washington it is in the bottom of 
a saucer-like valley which has never been drained. The 
large lakes within five miles are twenty feet higher than the 
city. Filthy water and sewage stand permanently within 
two feet of the surface of the streets. There are no cellars. 
The result is that the city of Mexico is the unhealthiest of 
cities. In the summer time fevers rage, and all diseases thrive 
that depend on impurity. Multitudes of our soldiers were 
there prostrated in 1847, ^^^ among the sick was Colonel 
Hitchcock. The announcement of his having been breyetted 
Colonel and Brigadier-General for gallantry at Contreras, 
Churubuso, and Chapultepec must have reached him before 
October, but he makes no mention of the compliment in his 
exhaustive diary. And now, in the autumn, having escaped 
the bullets of the enemy, he is taken dangerously sick and 
for a month makes no mark in his neglected book. 

"Mexico, Nov. i, 1847, 5 p-^*- I sat up three quarters 
of an hour the day before yesterday, the first time in more 
than three weeks. Yesterday I sat up about an hour and a 
half. To-day I changed my quarters, riding four squares. 
I was taken sick at the Spaniard's house, from a low ceihng 
and damp walls. I have suffered greatly. I now have 
assigned to me the house of one of the Mexican generals. It 
is large and splendidly furnished — quite magnificent indeed. 

*' Mexico, Sunday, Nov. 14, i p.m., and I am somewhat 
better. It is now five weeks since I took to my bed. I am 
so very weak that it is with great difficulty that I go down 
stairs. . . . During my sickness I have had many interest- 
ing interviews with intelligent Mexicans on the political rela- 
tions of this country and my own — with Gen. , Dr. 

and Sr. , three distinguished members of Congress, now 

sitting at Quer^taro, and the editor of a liberal paper here. 

Scott Urged to Declare Himself Dictator 309 

. . I am on my guard, but men seem very fair. They are 
all of one party — the Puros, so-called — and do not hesitate 
to express a wish that the troops of the U. S. may hold this 
country till the Mexican army is annihilated, in order that a 
proper civil government may be securely established. They 
are opposed to payment of money by the United States to the 
government of Mexico, saying it would only corrupt those in 

General Scott, while in command in the city of Mexico, 
was urged to issue a pronunciamento and declare himself 
dictator for six years; but he declined at once, one of the 
reasons he gave being that **it was required that he should 
pledge himself to slide the Republic of Mexico into the Re- 
public of the United States, which he deemed a measure, if 
successful, fraught with extreme peril to the free institutions 
of his country." 

''Mexico, Nov. 26, 1847. Another proposition was dis- 
cussed at great length this morning. Dr. came to see 

me, saying he was going to Quer^taro, and wished to ask the 
Mexican Government to apply for admission into the Union 
of the United States. Before doing so, he would like to 
know what answer the American officers thought the United 
States would make to such an application. . . . This is 
Friday ; he is to call Sunday, when I am to tell him what some 
American officers of rank think about it. He wanted particu- 
larly the opinion of General Scott — ^but that I could not prom- 
ise him. 

*'Nov. 30. I am to blame for not reporting more that 
I hear and see: about the Mexican Congress at Quer^taro, 
and its deliberations — ^to give their wranglings such a name; 
the meeting of the governors of the Mexican states ; the pres- 
ence of the Mexican commissioners in this city waiting in- 
structions; the recall of our commissioner; and a series of 
facts about the dissensions of our officers of rank. They seek 
to obtain distinction at home by writing puffing letters about 
themselves, which come back to us printed. They disgust 
the whole army and have resulted in the arrest of General 
Pillow, and, indeed, of General Worth, although the latter is 
not yet reduced to the low level of the former. 

** Mexico, Dec. 6. All our regiments are very much 

3IO Fifty Years in Camp and Field 

reduced — some to 130 to 150 men fit for duty. Recruits are 
arriving. They are very much needed. We had yesterday 
fewer than 6000 men for duty — perhaps not over 5000 — • 
to hold a city of 160,000 inhabitants, and a neighborhood 
of many thousand more. . . . Hays's rangers have come 
— ^their appearance never to be forgotten. Not in any sort 
of uniform, but well mounted and doubly well armed: each 
man has one or two Colt's revolvers besides ordinary pistols, 
a sword, and every man his rifle. All sorts of coats, blankets, 
and head -gear, but they are strong athletic fellows. The 
Mexicans are terribly afraid of them. 

** Mexico, Dec. 10. . . . Day before yesterday General 
Scott gave a dinner, partly in honor of General Twiggs (to go 
to command at Vera Cruz) and General Pierce (to go home) 
and partly in honor of some new-comers. I wish to name all 
who were present, because of a remarkable compliment offered 
by General Scott to the U. S. Military Academy: General 
Scott was at the head of the table and Mr. Trist at the foot. 
On General Scott's right around to Mr. Trist guests sat in the 
following order: General Patterson, General Cadwalader, my 
self, Major Kirby (Paymaster), a baron (foreigner), Lieu- 
tenant-Colonel Withers, and General Pierce. On General 
Scott's left — General P. F. Smith, General Caleb Gushing, 
Colonel Wyncoop (Penn.Vols.), Colonel Bonham, Major Lally 
and General Twiggs — and then Mr. Trist. 

''General Scott took occasion to make quite a long speech 
about the Military Academy, premising that there were only 
three graduates present, Mr. Trist, Colonel Withers, and myself. 
He apologized for speaking in our presence, but jocularly 
said we must hide our heads and consider ourselves under 
the table. At length he declared that but for the science of 
the Military Academy *this army, multiplied by four, could 
not have entered the capital of Mexico.' Upon this text 
he dilated considerably, repeating it and desiring that all 
who heard him might remember his words, and he showed 
^eat evidence of earnestness. He spoke as if he were doing 
an act of justice to those who had been mainly instrumental 
in his own glorious successes. General Patterson echoed the 
opinion, and so, less warmly, did General Gushing. No others 
said anything aloud, but General Cadwalader whispered to 

A Dinner Eulogy of West Point 311 

me his approval and concurrence. General Scott toasted the 
U. S. Military Academy. General Gushing toasted the Gen- 
eral-in-Chief of the Army, who had, in the valley of Mexico, 
etc., etc. General Smith remembered those who, by their 
deaths, had given us the Mexican capital. The whole dinner 
went off well, and is to be remembered."^ 

"Mexico, Dec. 12. I have moved to another house — 
the fifth I have occupied since we entered the city. This is 
the great fete day of the Mexicans in honor of the Virgin of 
Guadalupe. I visited the church of Guadalupe with Gen- 
eral Scott yesterday. Great preparations were making for 
the celebration of to-day. . . . More troops have arrived 
from the U. S. We have now some 13,000 or 14,000. 

"Dec. 29. I was in danger of being kidnapped or harmed 
to-day, having gone alone into a low dive in a bad quarter 
of the city to see what the noise was about. It seemed for a 
time as if I was in danger of being imprisoned, but I bought 
my captors off with an order for pulque all around." 

> General Gaines, at 70 years of age, wrote (Dec. 9) from New York to 
Colonel Hitchcock: "Every man of military mind known to me here is 
amazed, as much as we are all rejoiced, at the apparently providential 
result of every conflict which our troops have had with the greatly superior 
numbers of Mexicans opposed to us, without the loss of a battle and with a 
constant succession of brilliant triumphs. " 



THUS the year 1847 ^^^ ended, with the city of Mexico 
and much of the country in possession of the army 
of the United States, and a promise of a treaty of peace 
soon to be solemnized. The air was still vocal with reports 
of a concentration of the hostile Mexican forces, and all sorts 
of preposterous rumors, while three or four men, each claiming 
to be President, were arrayed in arms against each other. 
And the American commanders to whom the triumph was 
due waited patiently in Mexico for the confirmation of the 
treaty and a summons to return home. They little suspected 
that an intrigue was already on foot in Washington having 
for its purpose the dishonoring of the chieftain who had 
captured the city of Mexico and dictated terms from the 
palace on the site of the Halls of Montezuma. 

Whether this plot originated in Washington or not, it 
seems to have been wholly partisan. Scott was a Whig; he 
thought the war against Mexico wrong and had engaged in 
it reluctantly. It was therefore considered a case of poetical 
injustice that he was now found to be its chief hero, and it 
was resolved to ruin him if a libellous intrigue would do it. 
The administration found subservient instruments of its 
hostility in Worth and Pillow. These officers now circtilated 
several slanders — among them the story that they had saved 
Scott's army from destruction by inducing him to take the 
"Chalco route, '* after he had resolved to sacrifice it by march- 
ing against the impregnable Pifion or by the impracticable 


Worth and Pillow Claim to have Saved Army 313 

Mexicalcingo. Scott's defence from this curious and disrep- 
utable attack was conducted chiefly by Colonel Hitchcock, 
both in the newspapers of New York, St. Louis and Washington 
and before the military court to which the General-in-Chief 
was presently summoned. Even by November, 1847, this 
campaign of scandal had begun and it was continued through 
the coming year, resulting in the nomination by the Whigs 
of Taylor instead of Scott for the presidency. Until election 
returns were received it was assumed that Taylor had been 
fatally injured by having his army taken away from him, 
preventing his final victory. 

*' Mexico, Jan. 6, 1848. A brigade left this morning under 
command of General Cadwalader to occupy Toluca, the capi- 
tal of the state of Mexico. There are rumors that Jeranta 
has collected 3000 men at a pass twelve miles this side of 
Toluca, to cut him off. Soimds like a Mexican story. 

' ' 8th Jan. General Scott told me yesterday (in confidence) 
that he would not be surprised if Mr. Trist should sign a 
treaty 'within 72 hours.' I asked what powers Mr. Trist 
had; the General answered that he had none^ but assumed 

"Mexico, Jan. 14. Our 'Spy Company,' commanded by 
* Colonel ' Dominguez, came up a few days since and reported 
that near Nopoluca they fell in with and captured a party 
of Mexicans, including three generals (Torrejhon, Mignon, and 

G ) and several other officers and forty men — sl good 

service. Company came through from Vera Cruz in eleven 

"Jan. 28. In addition to what the General told me on 
the 7th inst., he said ten days ago that the treaty would 
certainly be signed by last Saturday ('tis Friday to-day), 
and that he should forward it by special express to Washington. 
In this prospect, the Spy Company was sent down as far as 
Ojo del Agua, this side of Perote, to wait there for the special 
express. Yesterday I sent another member of the Spy Com- 
pany to Ojo del Agua, to tell 'Colonel' Dominguez to remain 
there, for the treaty may not be signed till next week. Will 
it be signed at all? Mr. Trist is very positive that it will be. 

"Jan. 30. Yesterday General Scott went out about fifteen 
miles by invitation from the City Cotmcil (Ayuntimiento) , to 

314 Fifty Years in Camp and Field 

the ruins of a convent (Carmelite) — ^the most interesting ruin 
I have ever beheld. The City Council and some of their Mex- 
ican friends rode out mostly in carriages, while General Scott 
and staff, with General Butler, General P. F. Smith, and several 
other officers, rode on horseback. We went on the Toluca 
road, past Santa Fe, in all about twelve miles, and then 
turned short to the left into the mountains, and, after going 
some two or three miles more, rising all the while, we came 
in sight of the remains of the great convent. It was built 
in the 17th century, but has not been inhabited (unless by 
robbers) for nearly one hundred years. It is emphatically 
a ruin. The walls mostly remain standing, but the roof in 
many places is broken in, and numerous columns have been 
thrown down — ^probably by an earthquake. It was built 
of stone — ^much of it dressed. It is in a mountain gorge, 
almost entirely hid, and the ancient garden is overgrown 
with trees and bushes. 

* ' But the circumstances of our visit to the ruin are as 
remarkable as the ruin itself. The General was invited by 
the City Council of this great capital of the country with 
which we are at war — ^with which we are yet at war! — and 
the Council took the most special care that a collation should 
be sent out from the city, embracing every delicacy which 
the country affords — a. multitude of cooks, dishes, and every 
variety of wines and the greatest abundance of everything. 
They sent out even chairs, and had a long table spread imder 
a canvas shelter sufficient for over fifty persons. 

' ' The chief alcalde sat at the head of the table and another 
Mexican dignitary at the foot, and then we and the Mexican 
auxiliaries were distributed alternately on both sides of the 
table. General Scott was on the left of the alcalde and Gen. 
W. O. Butler on his right. The Council sent out a fine band 
(Mexican) and a special corps of musicians, to wit, three 
guitar-players and two flute-players. The band played on 
the arrival of the General and after dinner, while the other 
musicians, at a suitable distance, gave us music during dinner. 

"The most remarkable incidents were of a political char- 
acter. Several of the members of the Council, the alcalde 
included, gave toasts, all of which were decidedly friendly 
to the United States army, and in two or three instances 

The Treaty Secretly Signed 315 

the speakers in so many words expressed the hope that we 
would not leave the coiintry until we had first destroyed 
the influence of the clergy and the army ! 

*' General Scott made remarks of a general nature, to the 
effect that he desired peace, etc., etc. The gentlemen became 
pretty well warmed, and after General Scott withdrew I told 
Major Palacios, a member of the Council, that, thanks to the 
courtesy of the City Council of the City of Mexico, we had 
seen something much more interesting than even the convent 
of San Bernard — ^the prospect of peace. This I made my 
* sentiment.* 

"We started from the city at 8 a.m. and reached the 
convent at noon; left the convent at 2.30 and reached the 
city again before dusk. The General took an escort of two 
troops of dragoons, to guard against guerillas and robbers — 
also ordered a regiment to march out about five or six miles, 
which returned in the evening. 

"Mexico, Feb. i, 1848, 8 a.m. Freaner has just told me 
that the commissioners are to go to Guadalupe and sign the 
treaty at 2 o'clock. He is then to start with it express to 
Washington. By this treaty, as I understand from the 
General, the United States takes as a boundary the Rio 
Grande up to New Mexico, thence along the southern boun- 
dary of New Mexico to the River Gila, then the Gila to the Gulf 
of California, and some line to the Pacific a league south ot 
the Bay of San Diego. The U. S. pays Mexico's debts to 
the people of the U. S. (the original claims of the U.S. against 
Mexico for alleged spoliations upon commerce) and -fifteen 
millions besides. So, then, there is a prospect that the war 
will be brought to a close. 

"8.30 P.M. I have seen the treaty with the signature 
of all the commissioners and the seal of each — the treaty, 
as usual, being written out in the languages of the respective 
cotmtries. It was folded in the presence of Mr. Thornton, 
secretary of the English Embassy, Lieutenant Williams, 
A. D. C, and myself; also Mr. Freaner, who started with it as 
the bearer to Washington. Mr. Trist returned to Guadalupe 
at about 7 p.m., with the treaty signed. 

"General Scott is out dining by invitation. He has writ- 
ten to our government for instructions, in case of the approval 

3i6 Fifty Years in Camp and Field 

of the treaty, as to the disposition to be made of public prop- 
erty — wagons, horses, etc., etc. — and has asked that some 
general officer be ordered to see to the final movement of the 
troops out of the coimtry. It is probable now that the General 
may be returning to the U. S. in, say, fifty days, and I shall 
probably go with him.^ 

**3d. Feb., a.m., and the morning papers are silent about 
the treaty, the signing of which, like the entire management 
heretofore, has been conducted secretly. 

**6th Feb. But they have not been silent since the 3d! 
The Mexican papers are positive that a treaty of some sort, 
the articles imknown, was absolutely signed by the commis- 
sioners on the 2d. They are right, and Americans here are 
beginning to believe the story. ... I have not done my 
duty by this diary. I ought to have recorded a multitude 
of interesting incidents to enliven the narrative of events. 

*' To-day I heard a curious story: my native Spy Com- 
pany of 100 men, commanded by the robber-chief Dominguez, 
is now absent on a trip to Vera Cruz, and Dominguez's wife 
and others are sick here. I went this morning to see how 
they were getting on. It came on to rain and I was detained 
there and Madame told me of her experiences at Puebla 
after our troops had left there for this city. She was in great 
danger on account of her husband's being in our service. 
She was secretly warned to escape, as a party of Mexicans 
who had already plimdered her house was about to return 
to seize her. She disguised and disfigured herself and fled. 
She escaped recognition for some time, but was finally identi- 
fied by a Mexican acquaintance, who demanded to know if 
it was true that Dominguez was with the Americans. * No, ' 
she replied ; * he is sick, and not with the Americans. * * Where 
is he?* persisted the man. *Here, in the city, at a friend's 
house, ' answered she. ' Show me where he is, ' said he, ' I 
will go with you. I must see him. ' * Come, ' said she at once, 

» In his official report General Scott thus enumerated the men entitled to 
honorable mention after the storming of Chapultepec and the capture of 
the city of Mexico: "I beg to enumerate once more, with due commenda- 
tion and thanks, the distinguished staff officers who, in our last operations 
in front of the enemy, accompanied me and communicated orders to every 
point and through every danger: Lieutenant-Colonel Hitchcock, Acting In- 
spector-General, " etc. 

The Treaty Secretly Signed 3 1 7 

and led him to a house where a sick uncle was lodged. Leaving 
the Mexican in a front room she went into another, to tell 
her husband, as she said, where she told her imcle how mat- 
ters were, and arranged with him to detain the man while 
she fled by a back door. He kept up a loud talk with an 
imaginary person, asking who wanted to see him while he 
was sick, why couldn't he come later when he might be 
feeling better, etc., till she was quite out of reach. She hid 
herself again and followed our army to Mexico with her four 
young children and her sisters.'* 


pillow's "lEONIDAS" letter, worth THREATENS HITCH- 

AS has been seen, the unbroken series of victories by the 
American army did not result in general harmony. 
Indeed, every additional success seemed to be followed 
by increased discord and quarrelling. Instead of concluding, 
as Winfield Scott Schley concluded after his destruction of 
the Spanish fleet off Santiago, that there was ** glory enough 
for all, '* some officers sought to augment their own reputations 
by belittling the work of others. At least three " Presidents" 
of Mexico were in arms against each other in front of the 
American army, and some of the American officers caught the 
contagion of jealousy and strife. Pillow, a brave and com- 
petent but vain commander and a pet of President Polk and 
Secretary Marcy, wrote or caused to be written to home news- 
papers extravagant accounts of his own personal prowess. 
These letters, disparaging his equals and superiors, were 
received in the army with much condemnation and ridicule. 
General Scott laid charges of insubordination against General 
Pillow and demanded his trial, including General Worth and 
Colonel Duncan in the arraignment. The Secretary of War 
replied that their trial would be ordered, but that as General 
Pillow had, some weeks earlier, written to the War Depart- 
ment a letter disrespectful to the Commander-in-Chief, that 
letter would be regarded as charges and specifications and 
General Scott would have to be tried first! So, virtually, the 


Victorious General Arraigned as Criminal 319 

great chieftain who had marched his small army across Mexico 
and into the halls of the Montezumas — incidentally adding 
California and several other States to the American Union — 
was now, like Columbus after he had discovered America, — 
to be put on trial as an offender! The wonder is that he 
was not, like Columbus, sent home in chains. 

''Mexico, Feb. 8th. Surprising news came yesterday: the 
President of the United States has ordered a court of inquiry 
to convene at Puebla on the i8th to investigate the basis of 
charges brought by General Scott against General Pillow and 
brevet Lieutenant-Colonel Dimcan, and into the appeal of Gen- 
eral Worth against an order issued by General Scott in which 
General Worth felt himself censured. General Twiggs, who 
commands at Vera Cruz, sent the order up by a merchant's 
express. We expected an order for a court-martial, not a 
court of inquiry, or else that the President would order the 
officers to the States for trial. 

** Mexico, Feb. 18, 1848. The treaty was sent off on the 
night of the 2d inst. and the General told me this morning 
that General Mora (Vilamil) called on him in the character 
of a commissioner to treat for an armistice. The treaty it- 
self was signed on the part of the United States by Mr. 
Trist (though his powers as a commissioner had been abso- 
lutely revoked), but the armistice must be made by the 

**The General told me he felt embarrassed by several 
facts: that Mr. Trist had been recalled; that intimations 
have been thrown out of his own (Scott's) recall; that this 
recall may come in the next mail, expected in three or four 
days; that, if he is to be relieved, he wishes his successor to 
decide upon the terms of the armistice. At the same time, he 
says, he will get all ready to act when the mail arrives,^ and, 
if not relieved, he will appoint Generals Butler and Smith 
Commissioners to require, as a condition of a cessation of 
hostilities, that the Mexican Government shall assume the 
payment of $200,000 a month, to be deducted from the amount 
to be paid by the United States (in the treaty) in place of the 

« On Jan. 13, 1848, Secretary of War Marcy wrote to General Scott, "The 
President has determined to relieve you from further duty as commanding 
General in Mexico," and ordered him to appear before the court of inquiry. 

320 Fifty Years in Camp and Field 

contribution he has ordered levied upon the Mexican states 
in our occupancy. He will stipulate, also, that if the treaty- 
be not ratified by the United States, the armistice ends; and 
it may be ended suddenly should the Mexican Congress delay 
its acceptance unreasonably. 

"3 P.M. NEWS! A special messenger has arrived — 23 
days from Washington — ^and has brought orders from Presi- 
dent Polk relieving Major-General Winfield Scott from the 
command of the army in Mexico! It devolves, therefore, 
upon Major-General Butler, 1 the next in rank. The orders 
are dated Jan. 13, and General Scott is advised by a letter of 
the same date that a court of inquiry has been ordered by 
the President to examine into sundry matters (here noted 
on the 8th.) The President has ordered Generals Pillow and 
Worth and Colonel Duncan released from arrest, while General 
Scott is directed to attend the court of inquiry until informed 
that his presence is no longer required, when he is to report 
in person to the War Department at Washington. 2 

"In June last General Scott, in a letter to the War Depart- 
ment, after reciting or alluding to the 'many outrages' inflicted 
on him by the government at home, requested that he might 
be relieved by November, when he supposed active military 
operations in this country would cease. They ceased, in fact, 
on the entrance of this army into this city, 14th of September. 

"Mexico, 19th Feb. The dinner to which we sat down at 
6 P.M. was in the highest degree recherche. It was given by 
Mr. Drusini in honor of General Scott. Mr. Trist, Gen. P. F. 
Smith, and Capt. Robert E. Lee were present, besides myself 
of our army. There were about an equal number of English- 
men, including Mr. Doyle, the English Minister or charge, 
I don't know which, Mr. Thornton, secretary of legation, 
Mr. Davidson, a millionaire, and agent of the Rothschilds, 
Dr. Martinez, an eminent physician, and Mr. whose 

» William Orlando Butler, of Kentucky, after practicing law for thirty 
years was nominated Major-General when the Mexican War began. He 
was nominated for Vice-President, on the ticket with Cass, three months 
after assuming command in Mexico. 

2 After being ordered before the Military Court General Scott wrote to 
the Secretary of War: "Perhaps, after trial, I may be permitted to return 
to the United States. My poor services with this most gallant army are 
at length to be requited as I have long been led to expect they would be. ' ' 

President Polk Suspends Scott from Command 321 

name I did not distinctly hear. Mr. Drusini is a wealthy 
English merchant, about 45 or 50 years of age, medium stature, 
fair complexion, mild, amiable aspect, and deportment in 
keeping. His house is richly furnished and his silver plate 
immensely valuable. 

"The dinner went off in the English fashion. Nobody 
asked for anything, and nobody was offered anything except 
by the servants, who carried aroimd numberless dishes in 
succession and each took what he chose. Now and then 
the host would quietly ask some one — ^by turns, all, — to 
take wine, but very quietly. The conversation was easy, 
with a tendency to cheerfulness. Mr. Doyle was quite lively 
with his story-telling. We separated at 9.30, after coffee 
in the parlor. I had some conversation after dinner with 
Mr. Thornton and Mr. Doyle. They both deplored the order 
relieving General Scott and said it would be bitterly con- 
demned in Europe, as the result of low and vulgar intrigue 
by inferior men. 

"Sunday, 20th Feb. So far as I can discover, there is in 
the army a feeling of unmitigated condemnation of the late 
change, universal except among the immediate partisans 
of Pillow, etc. We all see the enormity of the conduct of the 
President — deplore and abhor it. 

"My relative position is not changed. As Acting Inspector- 
General I report to General Butler. General Scott told me it 
had been his intention to take me with him to the United 
States, but, as he is to remain here in attendance upon the court 
of inquiry, he thought it would be better for me to join General 
Butler, if General B. should desire it. General S. saw General B. 
and then told me that General B. expected me to go on duty 
as Inspector-General. I can go in command of my regiment, 
I suppose, but I should then be no less under the command 
of the new General, and should, in addition, be exposed to 
being under the orders of other new generals commanding 
the brigade or division to which my regiment may be attached. 

"Originally my great hope in joining General Scott's staff 
was to escape the orders of mushroom generals, — ^political 
appointments usually — ^men who know nothing of the science 
or art of war, and who, in fact, are indebted for all the repu- 
tation they ever acquire to the science in the main body of 

322 Fifty Years in Camp and Field 

the old regular army, which many of them pretend to despise. 
Without the discipline, organization, and tactics of the old 
army, the new army, generals and all, would be but a loose 
mob. General Scott never said anything truer than when 
he remarked, in presence of several new generals, that 'this 
army four times multiplied' would never have forced its 
way into Mexico, but for the science and skill from the Mili- 
tary Academy at West Point. (Noted by me on Dec. lo.) 

"Mexico, March 2. Gen. Joseph Lane^ returned yester- 
day from an expedition with about 3CX) men in search of the 
robber-chief Jaranta. He was found with 400 or 500 men 
in a small village among the mountains about 120 miles from 
here, where, thinking himself quite safe, he was surprised and, 
as General Lane reports, had over 100 men killed and forty 
odd taken prisoners, while Lane lost one horse and had three 
men wounded. The Texas volunteers under Hays and armed 
with Colt*s six-shooters made a part of this command. 

"March 4, 1848. It is understood that the armistice left 
here this morning for Washington. It will of course be pub- 
lished here immediately and take effect at once. 

"Mexico, March 14. The court of inquiry met in the 
palace yesterday — adjourned over till to-morrow. 

"15th March. Court met to-day, but did no business. 
General Worth yesterday addressed a note to the court stating 
that the President of the United States had done him 'ample 
justice* and that, 'in view of the interests and harmony of 
the service,' he requested permission to withdraw his com- 
plaint against General Scott. The note was handed to General 
Scott this morning in the court-room. He made a few re- 
marks, asking that haste be made. Time was of great im- 
portance to him, and he was reluctant to lose 'a day — ^an 
hour. * I remarked to Captain Huger as we came away arm 
in arm that the affair assumed a most extraordinary aspect; 
that General Scott was arraigned as a criminal before a petty 
tribunal in the very capital of the enemy's coimtry; that 
he was arraigned on charges preferred by his juniors against 
whom he had himself preferred charges ; that General Scott had 
conquered and captured the very place where the court sat; 
that the officers who had by him been arrested had all been 

' Lane was called the "Marion of the Mexican War. " 

Pillow's **Leonidas" Letter 323 

released from arrest, while he, Gen. Scott, has been suspended 
from command. Surely, this is strange!!! 

** March 20. The proceedings of the court of inquiry have 
taken an unexpected turn. The two cases of Duncan and 
Worth are laid over until the orders of the President can be 
received, but the case of Pillow is taken up on General Scott's 
saying that he was ready. 

** March 22. The court yesterday received the testimony 
of Mr. Freaner, the correspondent of the New Orleans Delia, 
The ' Leonidas * letter, published in the Delta last September, 
full of falsehoods and puffs of Pillow, General Pillow repeatedly 
denied in print all knowledge of, and complained that it was 
ungenerous and imjust to impute it to him. Now Mr. Freaner 
presents in court the interlined MS. letter, which is in all 
material respects the same as the * Leonidas ' letter. General 
Pillow admitted that he had caused it to be prepared for the 
correspondent of the Delta and had made certain interlinea- 
tions himself, which he designated and pointed out to the 
court. Mr. Freaner testified that General Pillow handed it to 
him and requested him to embody it in his report of the battle. 
Now, in making absolute denials of all knowledge of the 
* Leonidas ' letter, even addressing notes to both the editors of 
papers in this city, affirming that he knew nothing of it. General 
Pillow has — well, let it pass. I am told that Mr. Trist's 
testimony was terribly severe on General Pillow. 

** 26th. Sunday. Yesterday was a feast day, in honor of 
some saint, no better, perhaps, than one described by Boc- 

"Mexico, Mch. 27. Among my duties is that of deciding 
applications from proprietors of buildings and directors of 
institutions, to be exempt from furnishing quarters to troops. 
It is the General's wish to quarter the troops with the least 
possible inconvenience to the inhabitants, and altogether 
avoid interfering with educational establishments. We fol- 
low the example of the Mexican generals in occupying convents 
of monks, San Francisco, San Domingo, San Bernardo, San 
Augustin, — all these are immense establishments, the first 
and last especially. 

** Mexico, April 2, a.m. Last night about 12 o'clock Dr. 
Tripler came into my room with the news that the treaty, 

324 Fifty Years in Camp and Field 

modified in two or three articles, had been ratified by our 

"About the 23d of January I wrote a long letter to Prof. 
Charles Davies, in New York, giving him a good deal of 
information on points that had been misrepresented by letter 
writers. I bore down very hard on both Generals Worth 
and Pillow. It came back here printed (without my name) 
some three days ago and made a sensation. Yesterday Gen- 
eral Scott called me as a witness in the Pillow case, and Pillow 
produced the Courier and Inquirer of March 12th and asked 
me in court as to its authorship. I acknowledged it, but 
gave reasons for having written it quite as unpalatable as 
the letter. General Worth is in a fury about it. I have told 
the truth, and I stated to the court that I felt called upon, 
having a knowledge of the facts, to communicate them, as an 
effort to rebut the errors, not to say falsehoods, published 
by four letters in particular — among which I named the 
* Leonidas* letter. It will make a great noise. 

**Apr. 4. Yesterday I tmderwent a long cross-examina- 
tion by Pillow. He used every effort to irritate me, but in 
vain. I was perfectly at home and answered all his questions. 
I had a chance to explain why I wrote the letter to Davies 
and that I wrote it with the freedom of epistolary corre- 
spondence, not expecting that the letter would be printed 
entire, but intending to put the facts in his hands to be used 
at his discretion. I stated that I thought it a duty to the 
army, to our country and to history that those of us who 
knew the truth should tell it and put down the vile falsehoods 
which have been spread before the public. I claimed that 
I had violated no regulation; that I felt perfectly free to use 
my knowledge of the campaign (which, I said, was * consider- 
able'), and that I expected to continue to use it as occasion 
might require. I was on oath, and took care to remind the 
court that I was aware of it.^ 

> The proceedings of this military court sitting first in Mexico and then 
in Frederick, Md., were printed in full by the government in an octavo 
volume of about a thousand pages. The testimony of General Hitchcock 
^Us some twenty pages. In this official report, the testimony above referred 
to (Pillow's cross-questioning) read thus: "In reply to the question I state 
that I do not consider it an official duty and I am under no private engage- 
ment to write accounts of the operations of the American army in this 

Worth Threatens Hitchcock with Arrest 325 

'*8th Apr. I yesterday wrote a letter to Prof. Da vies 
to be by him published with my name, sending a copy of 
my note to General Pillow dated Nov. 24th, last. Mr. Trist 
left here to-day, superseded by Colonel Sevier of Arkansas, 
as minister. 

" Mexico, 13th Apr. Last evening Captain Scott told me 
that General Worth had some days ago asked for my arrest 
for writing the 'scandalous* letter (of the 23d of Jan.), but 
that General Butler had told him that before doing anything 
in the matter he would prefer to see specific charges. Whether 
charges will be presented remains to be seen. I remarked 
that he might put me to some inconvenience but that I would 
lay a load upon his shoulders that it would require a strong 
man to bear. Scott said that Worth knew that, and so he 
doubted whether charges would be brought. I then told 
him what had been communicated to me by Gen. P. F. Smith. 
Smith was operating in Monterey and Worth sent Pemberton 
with authority to retire him. Smith sent back word that 
he was * doing very well and would continue.' Worth then 
sent Colonel Peyton with a suggestion as to whether he had 
not better retire. Smith was irritated and retorted, * I have 
made such arrangements that all Hell can't get me away!' 
Thus he stayed and saved Worth's reputation. 

*' Mexico, 14th Apr. Last evening General Scott sent for 
General Smith and myself and shew us in presence of his aids 
a letter from the War Department of the 14th (March) ac- 
knowledging receipt of one from the General of the 28th of 
Jan. on the subject of the so-called council in July last (the 
1 6th — I made a note of it July 18), in which the General 
informed sundry officers that he had on the application of 
Mr. Trist, commissioner, placed a million of money at his 
disposal to secure a treaty. Some (false) account of the 
Council found its way into print and the Chief Executive 
called upon General Scott for the facts. The General answered 

valley, or during the late campaign. But I do consider it a public duty 
to do all I can to prevent the misrepresentation of facts and to contribute 
to the means which may be necessary to enable the proper historian yet to 
be to fulfil his duty to the world in a truthful manner. I consider myself 
in possession of considerable information about this campaign, and I feel 
entirely at liberty to publish it and expect to exercise that liberty. " 

32 6 Fifty Years in Camp and Field 

— by letter of 28th of January. The War Department now 
writes that the answer is not full or satisfactory and has 
directed the subject to be inquired into by the court of in- 
quiry now in session here. The court is ordered to sit with 
closed doors. 

**The General says that the matter is one which by him 
can be explained only to the President of the United States, 
as it involves the conduct of certain foreign representatives 
to this country (referring to the British legation) and he is 
bound in honor to say nothing of it * except to the President 
and perhaps the Secy, of War. * He therefore designs declining 
(refusing) to appear before the court in this matter. 

"Sunday, Apr. 16. Mr. C'Col.'*?) Sevier has arrived. 
The new. President of Mexico, Pena y Pena, expects the rati- 
fication of the treaty as soon as a quorum can be got in his 

** After 4 P.M. Have been to church and seen the cere- 
monies of Palm Sunday. Very imposing. Hundreds of 
wax-lights. An exhibition of the crucifixion — Christ between 
two thieves all as large as life and suspended on crosses. 
Beautiful music which quite entranced me till, feeling in 
my pocket, I foimd that some religeuse had contrived to steal 
my handkerchief from the bottom of my coat skirt. This is 
the fourth success out of seven attempts.** 

From the loss of the useful personal property amid such 
solemn surroundings, the diarist by easy transition returns 
to metaphysics and, for the first time since landing at Vera 
Cruz, records his more mature meditations on Spinoza's 
Ethics and the Institutes of Menu. He has not yet recovered 
his library, and he has small access to books, but, during the 
leisure afforded by these vacant weeks of sluggish court 
sessions and slow preparation for departure, he shows a strong 
tendency to resume his philosophical contemplations and 
arguments concerning the Absolute. But he still manifests 
all needful ability to protect his personal rights : 

**2ist Apr. An attempt was made some days ago by Gen- 
eral Pillow to discredit my testimony in regard to the hour of 
General Scott's arrival upon the field of battle on the 19th 
of August — *3 P.M. exactly.' Yesterday General Scott called 
me again before the court and asked if I made a memoran- 

Diary Produced in Court 327 

dum of the hour, and if so to produce it, etc. I produced 
my note-book and explained the time when I made a note 
of the hour. I handed the book to the president of the court, 
who, very deHcately and merely as a form, looked at the 
entry as I pointed it out. General Towson then handed it to 
General Gushing, who looked at it in the same way, and General 
T. then passed it towards Colonel Belknap, who waved his hand 
as if he were satisfied and did not wish to look at it. I had 
said, when I handed the book to the president, that the 
record was purely personal and private and never was in- 
tended for public exhibition, and was produced now only 
from seeming necessity. General T. rather urged Belknap to 
look at the entry, and he glanced at it and then passed the 
book to the judge-advocate, who made the necessary extracts 
and then returned the book to me. 

* 'General Pillow then asked for the book. I asked the court 
if the book was subject to be examined by General Pillow. The 
court, whispering together, evidently wished, out of delicacy, 
that Pillow should desist from his purpose; but he claimed 
that he had a right to satisfy himself as to the authenticity 
of the note. I then said, in a loud and clear voice, 'If General 
Pillow has any doubts about the genuineness of the entry 
I wish him to satisfy himself, but I do not wish to indulge 
mere curiosity in looking over my private note-books.* I 
handed the book to him, and the unblushing scoundrel turned 
and read page after page in different parts of the book, tmtil 
my patience became exhausted. 

"I then remarked, in an equally clear voice, 'If General 
Pillow has sufficiently gratified his curiosity, I expect him 
to return my note-book. ' 

* * * Don't be alarmed ! * said he ; ' I shall return it in due time ! * 
"General Scott saw that I was filled with indignation and 

said, 'The witness had better not speak.* I saw that he 
mistrusted my prudence, for the provocation was very great. 
He then raised the point of order as to whether General Pillow 
had a right to inspect the book beyond the mere note I had 
submitted. The president remarked that the court had 
satisfied itself as to the character of the book and had done 
with it, and that its being in the hands of General Pillow 
was a matter between myself and him. 

328 Fifty Years in Camp and Field 

** Everybody was thoroughly disgusted with the , 

and he finally handed back the book to me. During that 
time I had answered two, if not three, questions put to me 
by General Scott and the answers were recorded. I have 
. noted all this because it is characteristic of the delicacy and 
decency of General Pillow. 

** We are in the midst of the grand feast days of the church 
— Christ's death and resurrection. Churches highly and 
gaudily decorated and brilliantly lighted. No bells rung, 
but the people, old and young — ^many too old for such non- 
sense — carry about a noisy rattle like what, as a boy, I used 
to call a * horse fiddle. ' Watchmen use them in New York 
to give alarms. Those used here are of all sizes and shapes. 
What is a nation of such children worth? 

**2ist Apr., 8 P.M. The court of inquiry adjourned 
to-day to reconvene in Frederick, Md. I have just seen 
the General for a moment, full of preparations for leaving 
here for the States. He told me to call in an hour and a 
half, when he might have something to say. When I called 
he asked me to call at 7.30 in the morning. He is to start 
at 8 and forbids all persons calling to take leave and commands 
General Butler to pay him no parting honors. He has sent 
word along the line that he will receive no honors on his way 
to Vera Cruz — on the ground that he is under condemnation 
of the government . He will sail direct from Vera Cruz for New 
York ; and on arriving home will refuse all honors. All papers 
lately received are full of indignation against the government. 
They are bitter against Worth and Pillow — ^terribly so. 

"Mexico, Apr. 23, Stmday, a.m. General Scott left here in 
a carriage drawn by mules about 9 a.m. yesterday. From 
the time the court adjourned day before yesterday he set 
himself at work to leave as soon as possible. He cut off the 
visits of all who would have been most happy to testify their 
high opinion of him. The Aztec Club, composed of American 
officers, sent a request that he would receive them. He 
declined. . . . The day passed heavily with me — ^alone. . . . 
General Scott gave the key of his wine closet to me with 
directions to distribute the contents to Dr. Seeger, Capt. 
Robert E. Lee, and other of his friends at discretion. I shall 
consult Lee about it. " 



THE occupation of Mexico by the victorious army of the 
United States was obviously drawing to a close, in a 
manner scarcely creditable to the great republic of the 
north which sent it forth. These monotonous weeks of spring 
in Mexico were employed by General Hitchcock in a resump- 
tion of the study of Spanish imder direction of a pretty seno- 
rita in the city ; in reading such books as he could lay hand on 
and commenting to himself on their contents ; in giving wel- 
come to distinguished American visitors in Mexico for the first 
time; in recording the confession and question : ** I am perhaps 
the only man who has dared to speak the truth of our of- 
ficers. Why must every general be praised as a hero, greater 
than Napoleon?'* He revisits Contreras, Churubusco, Cha- 
pultepec, and other nearby battle-grounds and his former 
places of tranquil sojourn. He discusses the **new French 
Revolution** and ventures on an estimate of its outcome. 

During May three American officers are tried by military 
commission for the robbery of a Mexican bank and the murder 
of one of its inmates, and they are all sentenced by the court 
to be hanged. General Hitchcock is terribly scandalized and 
shocked to find that they are not only respected lieutenants, 
but that one of them belongs to the regular army and is a 
graduate of West Point! "This," he says, *4s a very aston- 
ishing and awful business.'* General Butler reprieves the 
sentences and permits all three to resign and go home! The 
faithful diarist records their names; but as they are assumed 
to have lived reputable lives after their return, and as one of 


33© Fifty Years in Camp and Field 

them attained a prominent position as a civil engineer, the 
identification at this time is imnecessary. News came from 
Quer6taro that the House had accepted the treaty and that 
the Senate would at once ratify it. "I am on a board of 
officers to decide how much ordnance, ammunition, etc., 
shall be restored to the Mexicans under the treaty." 

"Mexico, 27th May, 7 p.m. I am preparing to leave this 
city for home day after to-morrow. General Butler seems 
satisfied of the passage of the treaty through the Mexican 
Senate day before yesterday. I am to go to New Orleans 
and prepare for the discharge of the volunteers. 

** Orizaba, Mexico, Jime 5, 1848. Left Mexico last Mon- 
day at 3 P.M., and got here this (Monday) morning at 10.30, 
tmder the escort of the Spy Company. The war is considered 
over. Two days ago we heard that Chairo, a celebrated 
guerilla or robber, was on the road, and were not relieved 
of apprehension of attack till we descended into the valley 
yesterday and saw that all difficult passes had been placed 
in our rear. . . . Nothing can exceed the beauty and mag- 
nificence of much of the scenery from Puebla to this city. 
We are now in the warm region and are to halt here for 
rest and repairs. . . . The Spy Company I am to dis- 
charge, with their own consent, by paying them $20 per 
man at Vera Cruz — except the chief, Dominguez, who will 
go to New Orleans. He says he would be * killed like a dog' 
if he remained here. The remainder of the company expect 
to go to Campeachy on an expedition proposed by General 
Lane * on his own hook. * 

"Vera Cruz, Jtme 15. After leaving Orizaba we had 
an extraordinary scene in the Spy Company, between Domin- 
guez, the chief, and Spooner, the interpreter, between whom 
there was an old feud. Dominguez was angry at the manner 
in which a servant drove the mule carrying one of his packs, 
and chastised him. Spooner imprudently interfered. ' What 
business is it of yours?' asked Dominguez. More words 
passed. Suddenly they drew swords. Spooner fired his 
pistol directly at Dominguez and missed his mark, whereupon 
Dominguez laid his sword upon Spooner. Spooner turned 
his horse and rode away at full speed, Dominguez riding after 
him. I intercepted the latter where his horse stumbled, 

Begins to Write History of the War 331 

put my hand sternly on his shoulders and exclaimed *Amigo!' 
He responded amicably, and promised not to do anything 
to Spooner till we reached Vera Cruz. I then sent Spooner 
on a forced march ahead of us, and so separated them. 

*'New Orleans, June 23, 1848. Arrived (at anchor in the 
river) last night a little after midnight. Busy with the de- 
tails of landing the troops on board {Michigan) it was after 
2 P.M. to-day before I was able to occupy a room at the Veranda, 
where I am quartered. Have already met many old friends. 

*'A fair rtm here, and I am now in the Estados Unidos 
once more. My heart swells at the thought. I am return- 
ing from a perfectly successful campaign which has been 
full of interest from every point of view. I have been the In- 
spector-General of a noble army — ^the finest and largest that our 
coimtry ever had, — and it has accomplished almost miracles. 

** 24th June. Dined with General and Mrs. Gaines. 

**2 5th June. The Delta handsomely notices my arrival 
yesterday and, supposing me already a full Colonel, hails me 
as prospectively a brevet Brigadier. With General Pillow on 
my back and him the confidential friend of the President, 
I shall be lucky to escape with my commission sound. No 
matter; besides some strength in my own rectitude I feel 
great confidence in the support of all proper-minded men, 
and I happen to know something of the philosophy of both 
Spinoza and Swedenborg. The latter's work on the Infinite 
is now on the table before me. I found it at a book store 
yesterday. It is wonderful how little his open followers know 
of Emanuel Swedenborg — a mere refiner upon Spinoza, or 
a sort of dreamer upon the principles of the Jew. 

**Jime 30 finds me still in New Orleans. General Taylor 
and (brevet) Lieutenant-Colonel Bliss arrived this morning 
from Baton Rouge. General Butler is here; General Twiggs 
arrived from Mobile ; General Patterson came from Vera Cruz 
yesterday — all at the St. Charles. City flooded with every 
grade of officers.** 

While tarrying in New Orleans General Hitchcock was 
vigorously besieged by the participants in the Mexican War, 
who united in entreating him to write a history of that contest. 
They knew that he had disapproved of the motives of the 
administration which began it and yet had been actively 

^32 Fifty Years in Camp and Field 

present in the battles which effected the conquest of the 
invaded country — and therefore that he would be likely to 
be impartial. They knew that he had occupied a confiden- 
tial position at the head-quarters of the American comman- 
der, and therefore had unparalleled opportimities. They knew, 
from the exhibition of his diaries at the trial of General Pillow, 
that he kept a minute record of occurrences daily and almost 
hourly, and therefore would be likely to be exact. General 
Hitchcock took these urgent requests into favorable consider- 
ation and, at last., began a history of the Mexican War, as 

"Milton, Johannes, said he was ambitious of producing some- 
thing which the world would not willingly let die. 

"The writer of the following sketch or sketches of the campaign 
of General Scott in Mexico does not emulate the ambition of the 
author of Paradise Lost: he does not aim to produce what the 
world will not let die unwillingly ; he does not aim, properly speaking, 
to produce anything; but as something has been done by the Amer- 
ican armies in Mexico of which he has some personal knowledge, 
he feels called upon to publish what he knows. If what he publishes 
survives the present age it will owe its preservation to the extra- 
ordinary character of the campaign and not to its own merits as 
a composition. The author is a soldier and not a writer. He 
states this simply as a fact, and not to guard against or deprecate 
criticism. Those who read for information will duly consider 
the disadvantages under which an unpractised writer must labor. 

"But the author confesses he writes more for a succeeding 
age than the present; and he feels safe in thus indicating his pur- 
pose, for, if the work does not pass beyond the present time, it 
will not live to accuse his memory of presumption. The writer 
is accustomed to look into past times signalized by important 
events and to reflect upon the great value of contemporary accounts 
of those events, particularly when they proceed from actors; and 
he thinks an additional value attaches to such accounts when they 
come from actors who, while in a position to know the truth, were 
not in a position to write under a bias as seeking their own fame. 
The writer considers himself in an especial manner as falling within 
this description of actors in the campaign of General Scott, and 
in order to make this appear he proposes at once to indicate that 
position and to show, that while he occupied a place sufficiently 
elevated and confidential to know much of what transpired in the 
campaign, he was not in a position to claim any of its honors, 

Homeward Bound 333 

while the circumstances will show that he was suflficiently inde- 
pendent and may claim to be impartial. " 

Thus far the most vigilant and trustworthy observer of 
the Mexican campaigns had written when he came to a full 
stop. He intimates that it will be necessary to speak in the 
first person instead of the third, but, for reasons known only 
to himself, he never resumes the important narrative. But 
he kept trunkfuls of his diaries with the greatest care. 



THE robber-chief Manuel Dominguez, commander of 
the Spy Company, had come with his family to New 
Orleans with General Hitchcock, a fugitive from his own 
country, where his treason in behalf of the Americans had 
imperiled his life. General Hitchcock was honorably anxious 
about his safety, for he had been made by General Scott the 
intermediary for securing and retaining the remarkable and 
faithful services of the Spy Company. Before coming to 
Vera Cruz, therefore, constantly reminded of the obligation 
by the presence of the man and his comrades and his inter- 
esting and defenceless family, he wrote over his favorite 
nom de plume ** Veritas'* the following romantic story of 
Dominguez and his men. It was printed in the New York 
Courier and Inquirer while the writer was in Vera Cruz waiting 
for transportation. 

"To imderstand the character of Manuel Dominguez, 
the chief of the native Spy Company in the service of the 
United States, it is necessary to remark that our people, 
living under an equal and just administration of wise laws, 
are not well prepared to judge of such men. They need to 
be told that wise laws are for the most part unknown in 
Mexico, and it is still more rare that anything like justice 
or equity finds its way into their administration. The conse- 
quence is that here, as in other badly governed coimtries, 


Story of the Spy Company 335 

individuals are forced into employments and positions hostile 
to the society which not only gives them no protection, but 
often subjects them to the severest injuries, aggravated by 
every species of insult and outrage. That Dominguez is no 
common man any judge of human nature may see by a single 
glance at his dark and penetrating eye, especially when lighted 
up by any feeling whatever. That like Lambro he has been 
'stimg from a slave to an enslaver' is almost literally true. 
He was originally an honest weaver, and there is no reason 
to doubt that, had he been protected in his honest avocation, 
he would have remained an honest and useful member of 
society. By thrift and theft he improved his fortunes and 
became a sort of merchant in a small way, accumulating 
by industry rihosas and similar fabrics to the extent of many 
mule-loads. His habitual residence was at Puebla, from 
which place he traded both to the city of Mexico and Vera 

*'To be brief, Dominguez, on one of these commercial 
adventures, in which he had embarked his all, and upon 
which he depended for the support of a young and beautiful 
wife, and an interesting son, a youth of great promise, was 
waylaid and robbed — and by whom? by an officer of the 
Mexican army, bearing the commission of his government, — 
by a man who habitually received the bounty of his govern- 
ment, and whose sacred duty it was to defend the right and 
protect the injured. It might be said that one case of such a 
wrong could never justify the vengeance which Dominguez 
determined to take, and this no doubt would be true in our 
country; but here, this single outrage was but an index of 
what was daily occurring in all parts of the land, and those 
who committed the wrongs were the very people who were 
to determine any question growing out of them which might 
come up under the law. Of course justice was out of the 

"These outrages occurring in all parts of the country 
had created a body of public enemies, who formed a band, 
the members of which distributed themselves on all the high- 
ways of the country, having a perfect understanding with 
each other, and recognizing each other by signs as infallible 
and as secret as those of masonry. Dominguez placed him- 

33^ Fifty Years in Camp and Field 

self at the head of this band and became, as the truth must 
be told, the chief of robbers and exercised the most absolute 
command over the entire body on the whole route from Vera 
Cruz to the capital of Mexico. In this position it must be 
mentioned, perhaps we might say to his honor, that he strictly 
forbade murder. He and most of his gang had been despoiled, 
and, having no other remedy, they determined to live upon 
the spoils of others. The system was well known in Mexico, 
and a multitude of curious anecdotes might be told, illustrating 
the habits of these people, who were one day robbing on the 
highways and the next safely walking the principal streets 
of the principal cities, no one daring to point a finger at them. 
Merchants and others travelling on the highway gradually 
came to imderstand these gentlemen of the road, and rarely 
ventured on it without first securing an escort from among 
them, as they alone could furnish a safe conduct through 
the country. It is a remarkable fact that, when the American 
army arrived at Puebla, Dominguez was at large in that 
city, and, though perfectly known, the civil authorities dared 
not arrest him, and he was secretly pointed out to the 
American commander. General Worth, and General Worth, 
by request, caused his arrest. 

** After a few days the General, having occasion to com- 
mimicate with general head-quarters, then at Jalapa, sent 
for the robber-chief, in private, and in substance said to him: 
* You are in the midst of enemies among your own people, 
at whose secret instigation you have been arrested. They 
seek your life — you owe them nothing. What is to prevent 
your serving us ? * 

** Dominguez answered, 'Nothing: what do you wish me 
to do?* 

" 'You must bear a letter on the road for me — can you 

" 'Give me the letter — it shall go safely wherever you 
direct it.' 

"The letter was furnished to him, and safely delivered 
and an answer brought back. Soon after. General Scott 
arrived at Puebla, and General Worth sent Dominguez with 
a note to an officer of General Scott's staff, recommending 
him as a safe bearer of despatches. 

Its Formation and Services 337 

"The staff officer (Colonel H.) had an interview with 
Dominguez, desiring him to go to Vera Cruz with im- 
portant papers for all the American commanders on the 

** * I will take them, ' says Dominguez. 

** * What will compensate you?' says the officer. 

** *I ask no compensation,' says the chief; 'pay me what 
you please. I ask nothing. ' 

"And it is a fact, perfectly well authenticated, that he has 
never asked for a dollar, but has taken whatever has been 
given him, without examination and without question. On 
one occasion, indeed, when suddenly ordered with a party 
of his men upon the road with despatches, he asked for means 
to defray his expenses; for, from the time he entered the 
service of the United States, he adopted the principles of 
the American army, and took nothing on the road without 
paying for it — as he had been most carefully instructed to 

"So much for Manuel Dominguez himself; but allusion 
has been made to a company under his command in our 
service. This had a very small beginning, and, although it 
might have been increased some thousands, it has never 
exceeded one hundred men — ^that is, in the pay of the United 
States, though it has been difficult to keep the company down 
to that number. At first, only five compadres, as they are 
called, were taken into pay. These were employed as runners 
from Puebla, and by means of them the General-in-Chief 
was accurately informed of all Mexican movements in the 
towns adjacent to Puebla, and the highway was constantly 
explored, clear into the city of Mexico, at a time when every- 
body passing in and out of Mexico underwent the most rigid 
examination. These spies usually entered the city as market 
people from Chalco, by the way of the canal, selling apples, 
onions, etc. 

" An American citizen, who had been many years a resident 
of Mexico, offered his services as an interpreter at Puebla. 
They were accepted. One day he passed and recognized 
Dominguez, as a man who had robbed him of his money on 
the highway, and had given him a passport (?) to secure his 
watch, and some other valuables about his person. The 

33^ Fifty Years in Camp and Field 

passport was respected, for, though he was frequently stop- 
ped by members of the gang on different parts of the road, 
the moment he showed the passport, he was allowed to pro- 
ceed without molestation. A conversation ensued, which 
was brought to the notice of the Commander-in-Chief, and 
it resulted in the formation of a company of men, to be under 
command of Dominguez, through whom all business was to 
be transacted without papers and without signatures, without 
pledges, and with no security but what human nature fur- 
nishes to those who know how to direct it. Next to the iive 
first engaged was an addition of twelve made under the fol- 
lowing circumstances : 

** A Maltese by birth, who had learned some little English 
at Gibraltar, had been some time in Mexico, and was employed 
by one of the departments connected with head-quarters. 
He was a shrewd, ingenious, imeducated man of diminutive 
size, with a pleasant, agreeable countenance, indicating great 
cleverness and good-nature. He was found a curious genius, 
fond of Mexican toggery, or taggary rather, for he wore a dress 
in the extremest fashion for the common sort, covered with 
silver buttons and a profusion of silver tags, pendant from 
a small cape and from the cuffs and other parts of his dress. 
This man, being employed to look up competent guides — men 
who knew the roads and by-roads of the coimtry — intimated 
to the staff officer, who had Dominguez in charge, that there 
might be a number of men in prison who were well acquainted 
with the road, and in all probability some had been lodged 
there from being a little too free upon it; he suggested that 
he had better be arrested and thrown into prison as a criminal, 
where, in a day or two, he would be able to gain all necessary 
information. Accordingly it was all arranged, and one day, on 
the public plaza, in the presence of a multitude of Mexicans, 
he was formally arrested by our guard and ordered into 
prison,, then containing about one hundred prisoners, under 
charge of a Mexican police-guard. After a couple of days 
he was ordered out for examination, produced a list of twelve 
names of men who had been confined, some for three and 
five years, without trial on charges of robbery. The General's 
instructions on this subject were asked for, and he gave author- 
ity to release those who were not charged with murder or 

Promised Protection and Pardon 339 

rape, and who had been confined an unreasonable length of 
time without trial. The prison rolls were then examined 
and twelve men were taken out of prison and told the General 
had inquired into their cases — ^that they were imconditionally 
released — ^that nothing was required of them — ^that they were 
perfectly free. Dominguez was then put into communication 
with them, and such a meeting! Such embracing! These 
men had known each other before; that was plain enough. 
Eternal fidelity to each other was either pledged or renewed; 
and, with an allowance for the purpose, they made a merry 
night of it. These twelve, with the original five, were in- 
creased to a himdred by Dominguez himself, the whole affair 
of raising the company being entirely committed to him, — 
in such cases, half-confidence is worse than no confidence. 
His fidelity has been proved in a multitude of instances. 
A curious instance occurred at Puebla. 

"The government of the State of Mexico, while the Ameri- 
can troops occupied Puebla, was established at Atlixco, 
about twenty-five miles from Puebla. The government heard 
of the release of some Mexican prisoners, and, suspecting 
they might be employed by the United States, directed a 
free pardon to be made out for two of the principal men, 
and enclosed them in a third letter to Emanuel Dominguez, 
knowing that he would be acquainted with their whereabouts; 
and the government agent charged with this matter urged 
Dominguez to deliver the letters and to use his influence to 
induce the men to repair immediately to Atlixco, and receive 
the pardon and the bounty of the generously disposed Mexican 
government. Dominguez, already in our service unknowTi 
to the Mexicans, went immediately with all the papers to the 
staff officer, through whom he communicated with the Ameri- 
can General, and, smiling at the idea of Mexican generosity, 
left all the papers with that officer, who has them yet in safe- 
keeping. But the most remarkable instance of fidelity oc- 
curred soon after the battle of Molino del Rey. While the 
American head-quarters were at Tacubaya, Santa Anna di- 
rected a letter to Dominguez, over his own signature, coun- 
tersigned by the Secretary of State, and impressed with the 
great seal of the Republic of Mexico, a translation of which 
is as follows : 

340 Fifty Years in Camp and Field 

•• Mexican Republic, 
" Palace of the National Government, 
"Mexico, nth September, 1847. 
" Office of the Minister of Foreign and Interior Relations. 
** Should one or more of the Poblanos, now in the service of 
the North Americans, abjure their criminal error and abandon 
the flag of an enemy, and, at last remembering that they are Mexi- 
cans, should they render to their Government and Country a serv- 
ice of importance — such as bringing over a considerable number 
of soldiers and wagon mules, set fire to the enemy's ammunition 
magazines, or any other similar service, I offer them the pardon 
of their lives, and I will accord them a pardon for all past crimes; 
and furthermore I will grant them a reward adequate to any service 
they may render the republic. 

** In faith of which I sign these presents, authenticated by the 
Minister of Relations, and command that it should be stamped 
with the seal of the Supreme Government of the Nation. 

" Signed, L. De Santa Anna, 
(seal) ** Countersigned, J. R. Pacheco. 

"This paper was left at the quarters of the company while 
the company was absent under arms on the 12th day of 
September, during the bombardment of Chapultepec, the 
day before the memorable storming of that fortress, and 
when it was yet to be decided whether the American army 
would be successful. In that period of uncertainty the letter 
was delivered to Dominguez by two or three men left at the 
quarters, who carried it to him, and handed it to him, amidst 
the thunder of cannon on both sides. 

" Here was a full pardon and offer of reward, endorsed by 
the highest authority in Mexico, but Dominguez did not 
hesitate an instant. He preferred American to Mexican faith. 
He immediately rode into Tacubaya and delivered the 
paper to the staff officer. Colonel H., his countenance indica- 
ting the most bitter scorn of the hollow and necessitous pro- 
mises of one of the most faithless men living, whom he knew 
too well to trust. Besides a multitude of services rendered 
by this company as spies, couriers, etc., when it was impossi- 
ble for an American to pass through the country, they have 
furnished escorts for trains to a limited extent, and on one 
occasion made a very important capture of Generals Torre j on 
and Gaona, with several other officers, and a number of men 

Hitchcock Appeals to Jefferson Davis 341 

near Nopaluca, east of Puebla. It has been said that at 
that time there was great difficulty in restraining the Pohlanos 
(as the company is called by the Mexicans, having been raised 
at Puebla) , but an explanation has been offered that General 
Gaona had, on some occasion, caused one of the officers of 
the company to be severely whipped. The chief evil suffered 
from the company has arisen from the fact that evil-disposed 
Mexicans have been more or less in the habit of assuming 
the badge of the company, and committing robberies upon 
their own people on the credit of the company. But this 
trick is now well known, and of late nothing of the kind has 

*' It will be the solemn duty of our government, in the 
event of peace, to do something for the members of this 
company, who, whatever may be said of their relations to the 
Mexican Government, have been faithful to us, and have ren- 
dered important services which could not have been obtained 
from any other quarter or by any other means.'* 

Moved by the necessity of having some provision made by 
the United States for the support of the exiles. General Hitch- 
cock made an immediate appeal to Jefferson Davis, senator 
from Mississippi, who thereupon introduced into the U. S. 
Senate a bill for their relief. It was referred to a committee 
and there it slept, apparently unable to stir the cockles of a 
single heart. But Colonel Davis had been badly wounded in 
Mexico, and to him General Hitchcock wrote a second appeal 
giving some interesting additional details. It was as follows: 

*'New Orleans, Jan. 9, 1849. 

"Dear Sir: I write to ask your attention to the situation 
of Manuel Dominguez, the chief of the Mexican spies employed 
under the orders of General Scott in Mexico, for whose * relief ' 
you introduced into the Senate last session some resolution 
which was not acted upon. 

" On reaching this city a few days since Dominguez came 
to see me, and on examination I found himself and family, 
nine persons, living without furniture in a single third-story 
room in the outskirts of the city and perfectly helpless, so 
far as I can judge from appearances. 

"When Dominguez was taken into our service at Puebla 

342 Fifty Years in Camp and Field 

he was living decently in a comfortable house. He was 
soon afterwards offered high rewards if he would enter the 
Mexican service, but he never faltered for one moment in 
his fidelity to us. The value of his services can hardly be 
estimated by those who were not engaged in the war (you 
will imderstand them fully) and were of a kind likely to be 
disregarded when the immediate need for them was past. 
Indeed, the full extent of his services has never been known 
except to some two or three persons in the army. 

" Dominguez was sent to me at Puebla by General Worth 
with a note stating that he had borne a despatch for him 
safely and might be of service to General Scott. I employed 
him, and by the orders of the General sent him with despatches 
for the commanders on the route to Vera Cruz, and he faith- 
fully returned with answers. I then confidentially took into 
service five of his men, to whom twelve others were after- 
wards added. The Spy Company, so called, was not formed 
tmtil a number of weeks later. 

** By means of those first engaged under the direction of 
Dominguez I was enabled to keep the General accurately 
informed of the state of things on the main road from Vera 
Cruz to the City of Mexico, and fully advised of everything 
in the vicinity of Puebla. This was one of the means by 
which General Scott protected himself from false rumors, con- 
tinually reaching him, of movements of the enemy. Reports 
were constantly coming in of threatened attacks upon Puebla, 
and of large forces passing from the City of Mexico to cut 
the line of commimication with Vera Cruz. Many of these 
reports were disposed of very easily by the General himself 
without looking to the spies for information, though in other 
cases this information was often of highest value, and ought 
to be weighed by its estimate at the time. 

** After the number of the spies was increased and the 
Mexicans suspected we had' such persons in our employment 
some of them were detected and executed- but, notwithstand- 
ing this, Dominguez foimd others and continued to obtain 
information which could be had in no other way. It became 
necessary to be very guarded. In some cases they were sent 
to the City of Mexico itself even, without any paper whatever, 
and would report on their return, simply what they had seen 

Relief Withheld 343 

and heard. In other cases, to make them known to our 
friends and protect them from enemies, they were provided 
with a small piece of tissue paper, very small indeed, on which 
was written a date, with the words 'Trust the bearer,' with 
my signature; this they would hide in the seam of some part 
of their dress, or between the soles of their shoes ; they would 
hide it in a lock of their matted hair or put it within a bullet 
button on their dress, or they would enclose it within the folds 
of a cigar, etc., etc. With this bit of paper they would go 
from one post to another and bring back verbal messages 
from our commanders with other valuable information. 
It was in this way that the General communicated with his 
reinforcements while coming up from Vera Cruz. As these 
services were secret, so, for that very reason, they have never 
been properly appreciated except by a very few persons. 
To tmderstand them one must imagine the American army 
entirely isolated within the enemy's country at Puebla when 
it was impossible for any of our own men, except in large 
parties, to go with safety beyond the limits of the city ; and 
then consider that through these spies chiefly the army reposed 
in perfect quiet and security from false reports so harassing 
to a body of men subject to be ordered under arms at all 
times, night and day, only to be dismissed after one, two, or 
three hours full of disgust at being needlessly disturbed. 
** During the whole of the campaign to the City of Mexico 
General Scott never on-one single occasion caused the troops 
to be turned out on a false alarm. To this healthy repose 
the spies imder Dominguez contributed, not as the only means 
indeed, but yet they were indispensably important agents. 
The subordinate persons employed by Dominguez were but 
little known and are not now particularly exposed. They 
have gone to the Rio Grande frontier and will readily be 
dispersed and lost sight of ; but not so with the leader of that 
band, Dominguez. He is a known and a marked man, and 
cannot live in his own country. On this accoimt something 
seems due to him, not to be determined so much by * his honor ' 
as by what may become ' our own honor, ' and perhaps sound 
policy. After the City of Mexico was occupied by the American 
army and the road had become tolerably quiet, the Spy Com- 
pany made several expeditions to Vera Cruz and back again 

344 Fifty Years in Camp and Field 

to Mexico without ever losing a single despatch committed 
to them. 

** Besides other evidences of fidelity I ought to mention 
that while our army was before the capital Santa Anna, 
over his own signature, sent a full pardon to Dominguez, 
coimtersigned by the Secretary of State, and bearing the 
great seal of the republic, if he would abandon our service; 
with a promise of reward if he would 'seduce our soldiers 
to desert, drive off our mules, or destroy our magazines.' 
The moment Dominguez received the paper (which I have 
now in my possession) he rode up to me upon a fine charger, 
halted, dismounted, saluted, and handed me the paper with 
a scornful smile that needed no interpretation. He had 
given me a similar paper at Puebla, sent to him by the gov- 
ernment of the state of Puebla while at the town of Atlixco. 
Indeed, his fidelity was proved in every possible way, inso- 
much that when I left Mexico, we had no other escort to Vera 
Cruz but the Spy Company imder Dominguez. 

** Under all these circumstances I hope you will see the 
propriety of asking of Congress some proper allowance to 
be paid monthly or quarterly for the support of Manuel 
Dominguez, exiled on accotmt of his services to the United 
States. It may be supposed that if Dominguez had any 
claim upon the generosity of the government it would have 
been stated by General Scott himself; but it should be recol- 
lected that General Scott left Mexico before peace was declared, 
while General Butler, his successor in command, had no per- 
sonal knowledge of the services of Dominguez. 

** Although it is many years since I have had the pleasure 
of seeing you, I hope I am not altogether forgotten, and must 
beg you will permit me to number myself among your friends 

as I am 

*' Very truly yours, 

" E. A. Hitchcock, 
" Bvt. Col. U. S. A. 
Col. Jeff. Davis, 

U. S. Senate, Washington City.'* 

This setting forth of the facts in the case would seem to 
be a sufficient proof of the duty of this nation. It is not 
pleasant for a citizen of the United States to be compelled 

An Ungrateful Nation 345 

to add here that the just and righteous bill never became 
a law; was never passed in either house; was never urged 
by the President as a desirable measure ; was probably never 
reported from the committee; and that the man who trusted 
to the good faith of the country which he had so conspicuously 
and bravely served, and to which he had fled, trusted in vain. 
He was left to support his family as he could — ^to live or die 
as he could — ^in a city through which Poverty always walks 
and which during the very next winter was swept by malig- 
nant cholera. Without hesitation may we record the judg- 
ment of an eminent publicist that the United States is the 
most exacting of creditors and the most unscrupulous of 



DURING the last week of June General Hitchcock received 
an order to proceed to Alton, Illinois, to muster out of 
the service regiments of Mexican volunteers belonging 
in the Western States, and he spends from July 4th to July 
17th reaching his destination. He reads everything in print 
on the boat, as usual; contemplates and comments on the 
Absolute, the relativity of the Finite, and the Spiritual Diary 
of Swedenborg; comes to the conclusion that the last-named 
philosopher ''reflected so intensely upon certain principles 
that he became, not exactly deranged, but disordered in 
his mind to the extent that his subjective thoughts became 
objective." He visits St. Lotiis en route, finds his books 
and "everything safe from moths." He acknowledges that 
he feels queerly in the old familiar house alone, with the family 
absent, because he "left for the campaign in Mexico with 
not a few chances against ever returning." 

"27th July, 1848. I have discharged a good many com- 
panies. ... It is vain to deny it: these troops are un- 
worthy the name of soldiers. The officers are, for the most 
part, little better than the men, ... as a body without 
discipline and very ignorant of everything belonging to a 
soldier's duties. The whole volunteer system is indebted 
for all of its reputation to the regular army, without which 
the entire body of volunteers in Mexico would have been an 
imdisciplined mob, incapable of acting in concert, while they 
would have incensed the people of Mexico by their depreda- 
tions upon persons and property. 

" St. Louis, 30th July, Sunday. . . . Have been looking 


Hitchcock Discharging Troops 347 

into my interminable boxes. I have absolutely too much 
baggage — five excellent trunks and twenty-two boxes, besides 
two entire travelling beds (iron) complete, three saddles and 
equipments. For years I have added to my stock of books 
imtil I have quite too many for a traveller. " 

The diarist received on Aug. 19th a note from Senator 
John Bell telling him that his nomination for the brevet 
rank of Colonel for gallantry in the battles of Contreras and 
Churubusco had been confirmed by the U. S. Senate. 

**Sept. 6, 1848. Fort Leavenworth, some 500 miles up 
the Missouri. Reached here on the 4th to discharge the 
Missouri volimteers. General Lane, new governor of Oregon, 
is preparing to go to Santa Fe, thence to San Diego on the 
Pacific, and thence up the coast to the Columbia, having been 
assured by all experts that the direct route is impracticable 
at this season. They coimt fifty days to South Pass, the 
entrance into the moimtaias, and from that time he would 
find snow the whole distance to Oregon City, and his horses 
and perhaps many of his men would perish. 

*'Fort Leavenworth, Sunday, Sept. 10. General Jo Lane 
left here this morning, with an escort of twenty-five men. 
He is the first governor appointed to Oregon territory. He 
thinks there may be 20,000 white people, in the Hudson 
Bay Company. He is a * pushing* man and made some re- 
markable expeditions in Mexico. Fair sample of a Western 
man, 46 or 47 years old. Has a pleasant smile on rather 
hard features. Has been a successful working man. Has 
slight education, but talks sensibly about common things. 
Is good-hearted and ambitious.'' 

During the ensuing fortnight General Hitchcock waited 
impatiently for troops to arrive ; f otmd lodging with a citizen 
who frankly explained that he had 'Aplenty of muskeeters 
and bugs"; fell upon Ward's Hindu Systems of Philosophy ^ 
and studied and analyzed it till he overcame all annoyances 
and came to consider the Bhagavat Gita " equal to the ancient 
Greek philosophers excepting Aristotle. Liberation and ab- 
sorption are salvation," he says, and adds: "There is a 
wonderful calmness and composure in their mode of inquiry. 
It is remarkable to see how completely free from rant and 
cant they are — ^no denunciation — ^no threatenings of hell." 

"348 Fifty Years in Camp and Field 

From day to day and from week to week he waits, and medi- 
tates and speculates on the Durshunus and the Vedas and 
the great pantheistic treatises of the Hindoos. And finally we 
are left to conjecture as to whether the troops came or not. 
At last, on Sept. 25th, a general order arrives from Wash- 
ington assigning the army to its several stations. His regi- 
ment is divided — four companies in New Mexico and six 
companies in Texas along the Rio Grande. "And so," the 
diarist sadly soliloquizes, *' I am to be banished!" 

At last he mustered out the delinquent troops and acknow- 
ledged that he fotind mental relief in activity. On Nov. 1 4th 
he started down the river and at St. Louis was glad to hear 
that Taylor had been elected to the Presidency. After visiting 
for a month he again started for New Orleans; and, hearing 
of cholera raging there, he once more made a will and signed 
his name to it, as when facing the dangers of the Mexican War; 
and now, as before, he not only disposed of his property, but 
added his scarcely changed philosophical conclusions. 

"Baton Rouge, Dec. 27, 1848, 9 p.m. At the City Hotel, 
after seeing General Taylor, President-elect, Lieutenant-Col- 
onel Bliss, . . . and others. The General this evening, of his 
own accord, spoke of General Worth, who, he said, had three or 
four days since offered to 'make explanations.' General T. 
told him it was unnecessary; and added to me that those 
matters are all past. He also dissented from Worth having 
command of Texas and New Mexico. General T. thinks that 
Congress ought not to legislate about slavery in the new ter- 
ritory, but says that if it does, and he should veto the law, 
California would be left four years without a government, and 
then the free States would have their own way. General Taylor 
talks to me very freely. He is opposed to the pretension of 
Texas to the Rio Grande and says that Congress ought to 
define her limits. Has not named a single member of his 
Cabinet yet, and seems troubled. Said he wished he could 
put the Presidency in somebody's hands and have nothing 
more to do with it. Spoke of James Watson Webb^ continu- 
ally writing to him for offices and asking to be sent Minister 

1 If General Webb was a persistent applicant for office he was equally 
a persistent champion, and this was recognized when he was appointed 
Minister to Austria in 1849 and to Brazil in 1861. 

Irritated against Scott 349 

to England. 'These editors/ he said, 'seem to think that 
all the offices belong to them. ' 

"Dec. 29, 1848. General Taylor yesterday let out a little 
spleen against General Scott. Straws, they say, et cetera. 
The General (I have no recollection of what led to it) broke 
out with an assertion that the court of inquiry in Pillow's case 
allowed General Scott to ask a question about Captain Ker 
which he had no right to put, and the Court, he said very 
emphatically, should have stopped General Scott — making 
one or two other statements showing the direction of his 

"I said nothing, at first, and Bliss also held still, but 
after a moment Bliss remarked that the question was within 
the rules and proper. The General returned to the assault, 
saying that Scott had no right to ask the general question 
as to whether the witness would believe Captain K. under 
oath, but he might inquire as to particular facts. 

**I then remarked that the books prohibit asking into 
particular cases for the reason that it would make each case 
a subject of special inquiry. Here the General was at a stand : 
Bliss and myself had both come out against him. He looked 
black a little while, but said no more about it. I could see 
that his mind is disturbed against General Scott. 

" Bliss tells me that the stories of the General in connection 
with Bragg are all false. He never said * A little more grape, 
Captain Bragg, ' nor did he say * Major Bliss and I will sup- 
port you.' 

'* General Taylor has talked a good deal about the battle of 
Buena Vista. Spoke of General Wool and General Churchill 
as having had the opinion that they were beaten, and he said 
that both of them were in favor of falling back to Saltillo 
on the night of 23d Feb., in which case (as Kingsbury sug- 
gests would have been the fact had General Taylor been killed) 
both armies would have been in full retreat on the morning 
of the 24th of February! The General says that Captain 
Carleton's accoimt is a pretty fair one, on the whole, and 
that Kingsbury's is also a fair one, bating some eulogiums on 
himself (the General) . 

" Baton Rouge, Jan. i, 1849. I have received the order of 
General Taylor granting me leave of absence until April ist, 

350 Fifty Years in Camp and Field 

with orders then to join the four companies of my regiment 
at Jefferson Barracks, near St. Louis. 

" On board the Luna, 50 m. from N. O., Jan. 5, a.m., going 
to New Orleans, cholera or no cholera. I suppose one place 
is about as dangerous as another along this river. 

"Evening. Arrived at New Orleans about 2 p.m. City 
almost deserted. The cholera has driven almost everybody 
away and the levee is covered as far as the eye can reach 
with sugar, cotton, etc., which draymen can not be hired to 
haul away. 

"Saturday, 6th Jan., 1849. I saw Dominguez to-day 
and, as I expected, he had been looking out for me in hopes 
that I might do something for him through Congress. He 
has been settled with in full as far as promises were made 
to him, but many think that he is entitled to some provision 
from the government, as he lost his own country in the service 
of ours. He was the principal spy employed by me for General 
Scott in Mexico, and rendered very important services. 

"8th. Colonel , one of the Inspectors-General of 

the army, is at the Veranda, in the last stage of cholera. 
His habits have been imprudent. His remarkable defence of 
Fort Sandusky in 18 13 is memorable. If he had failed the 
garrison would have been massacred. General Jackson re- 
fused to notice his habits of intemperance, saying that he had 
' done enough to entitle him to be drtmk for the rest of his 

" 6 P.M., and Colonel has just died. 

"nth Jan., N. O., evening. I to-day saw Dominguez, 
the chief of the spies in our service. He tells me that he 
went to Washington last summer and saw the Secretary of 
War — ' a large, elderly man, ' — who asked him if he knew of 
anything that General Scott did in Mexico that was wrong. 
Dominguez said * No. ' The Secretary [Marcy] then assured 
him that he could speak freely and would be protected! 

> It will be remembered that both Taylor and Scott were Whigs, and 
that both repeatedly charged the administration of Polk with purposely 
embarrassing and retarding their military operations. 



GENERAL HITCHCOCK went to New Orleans on 
Jan. 5, 1849, ^^^ ^^ i^ot leave it for the north till 
Feb. 27th, though the city was stricken and desolated 
with cholera. Why he stayed there seven weeks in the midst 
of pestilence, when all the inhabitants were flying for their lives 
who could get away, does not appear; indeed, it is not obvious 
why he went there at all, as he seems not to have been called 
there by either professional or personal business. But, where- 
ever he is, this man seems always to be walking up and down 
the earth alone. If he went and tarried in the "almost 
deserted city'* for the purpose of testing his philosophy it 
was a more Quixotic mission than he ever before or afterwards 
performed. He found some chance acquaintances still linger- 
ing there; indeed, he followed some of them to the grave, and 
expressed his repugnance at "serving as pall-bearer." It is 
not altogether impossible that he sought a city whose popula- 
tion had fled because he wanted a quiet time to study: at 
any rate, he pursued his studies and contemplations there 
with great diligence. He says he has a premonition that 
his health will soon fail him and he wishes to learn all he can. 
Yet his health is so tolerably good, and he himself is so pros- 
perous in his affairs, that he grows half superstitious and is 
reminded of the ring of Poly crates and his fate. 

As usual, he buys rare old books during this sojourn in 
a city whose other denizens have something else to think 
about. He now flanks and reinforces his Spinoza, Bacon, and 
Locke with Voltaire's romances; John Barclay's Argents; 


352 Fifty Years in Camp and Field 

Trajano Bocalini's Advertisements from Parnassus^ and the 
Politic Touchstone of 1769; an English version of Malebranche, 
in folio, 1694; and the military essays of Sir James Turner, 
knight, folio of 1683. 

Once more he writes much upon the idea of Substance 
and the definition of the Absolute, and comments freely on 
the personal character and habits of Coleridge, Southey, Keats, 
Lamb, De Quincey, and Words worth^especially the weak- 
nesses of the first named. The diary is full of interest to 
metaphysicians . 

During this sojourn in New Orleans, in 1849, General 
Hitchcock saw much of General and Mrs. Gaines, and in their 
family met Miss Delia Bacon, whom Hawthorne introduced 
to the world as a " gifted woman," and who, in 1857, brought 
out her work to prove that Bacon and others wrote the poems 
and plays of Shakespeare. At this time her opinions were 
nebulous — not very distinctly outlined — or, as Hitchcock 
noted, " obscure. " She explained volubly and made marginal 
notes in his copy of Hamlet and Midsummer Night's Dream , 
but he only faintly comprehended her intent. The fact prob- 
ably was that her startling theory was as yet only partially 
developed and was therefore inadequately stated. 

The seeds of disease which had been abundantly, though 
almost unconsciously to himself, planted in Hitchcock's sys- 
tem during the trying times of the Mexican war now began to 
make their painful results manifest, and he started for the 
Hot Springs of Arkansas on February 27th, bearing with 
him the commands of a favorite physician. 

"Half way up to Little Rock. . . . Reading Burton's 
Anatomy of Melancholy — half amused, half displeased, a little 
instructed. Burton was a weak, fantastical, superstitious old 
fool, and, anticipating some such characterization, admits 
it in advance, which shows some ingenuity. 'Thirty years' 
in a library, filling his head with all sorts of useless odds and 
ends of learning, and without a basis in himself for reducing 
what he read to reasonable reason. What a monstrous faith 
in devils and spirits! No system or order — things the most 
incongruous and contradictory. . . . Perhaps the destruc- 
tion of the old libraries is no great loss after all — what a 
multitude of fools' books does he quote!" 

Seeks Health at Hot Springs 353 

The invalid — for Hitchcock was really an invalid now, 
having been informed by his physician that he had "incipient 
paralysis" — arrived at the Hot Springs on March 9th. The 
diary thenceforward for many pages has a very local color 
and medicinal flavor. The writer describes the springs in 
detail, gossips pleasantly about the patients, records his 
symptoms, and acknowledges from time to time that he is 
getting **no better very fast." Here, too, he resumes his 
philosophical readings. 

''May 6. I must lose in my profession by remaining 
here. The part of my regiment with which I was to go from 
Jefferson Barracks to New Mexico has started on its march — 
and I am absent! I cannot help it. 

** nth May. Finished reading the letters of the Turkish 
Spy. I think the anonymous author was an Italian deist, 
yet falling short of the calm enthusiasm of Spinoza. He had 
to combat an almost universal belief in what was called 
Judicial Astrology. Its very name is now almost forgotten, 
though in the age of that author it was well-nigh adopted into 
the religious faith of the world. Kings and nobles and even 
the commoners who were able had the ''nativities'* of their 
children cast, and carefully consulted astrologers in regard 
to their own fate and the fate of their friends. There is not a 
more curious chapter in the history of opinion than that 
which records how easily one age lives in the opinions which 
brought upon their authors persecution, obloquy, and death. 
There is nothing more futile than to think that any doctrine is to 
be supposed true because we find it supported by those per- 
sons we happen to be surrounded by ; for, if we travel ever so 
little, or even read ever so little (which is a sort of travel) , we 
shall find every opinion defended that man can imagine." 

The months of invalidism and water treatment at the Hot 
Springs must have passed sluggishly enough; but Hitchcock 
beguiled the tedium by using the time in self -research, in per- 
sistent readings of recondite works, and in no less persistent 
discussions with himself of metaphysical hypotheses and 
philosophical speculations. Some of these, carefully recorded 
in his diary, seem useful and are certainly interesting. Ex- 

" I have always been unwilling to take anything on trust 

354 Fifty Years in Camp and Field 

in matters of knowledge. I recall that when studying as- 
tronomy at West Point we were one day directed to calculate 
an eclipse and were referred to certain tables in Enfield which 
we were to use according to directions given in the text. All 
of the class, seventeen in number, except myself, immediately 
set at work with their slates and began to put down figures from 
the tables in the order and manner directed in the text. This 
was to me merely a mechanical operation, and I hesitated at 
first and then inquired of the professor, ' old Colonel Mansfield,* 
how the tables had been prepared. He talked a little about 
'the problem of the three bodies,' but gave no satisfactory 
explanation. Perhaps he told us all he knew. At any rate I 
lost interest ; I let the time pass idly by, and, while not refusing, 
I omitted to make a 'calculation of an eclipse,* while some 
of the others plumed themselves not a little on having gone 
through the mere mechanical form of taking certain figures 
from certain columns of certain tables, and, by adding and 
subtracting, multiplying and dividing, according to directions , 
having brought out a certain result according to principles 
of which they knew nothing. I could not be satisfied with 
that as knowledge.'* 

And occasionally the diarist intermits his meditations 
and his estimate of unseen dynamics by summing up to date 
and trying to satisfy himself that he is making progress, how- 
ever slowly : 

" Notwithstanding the obscurity of this matter there are 
some points which seem quite fixed in my mind ; for example : 

"There can be but one imiverse — one world (in the largest 
sense) — not two worlds, a here and a hereafter. 

"There can be but one eternity. Eternity does not begin 
at death; it cannot have had any beginning; I am in eternity 

"The best division of worlds is perhaps into the known 
and the unknown: I rather like this idea. 

"The most enduring satisfaction results perhaps from the 
conscientious but not too fervent pursuit of truth, and this 
has been my case for many years. 

"Freedom and necessity are two words which we apply 
to the same phenomenon, according as we look at that phenom- 
enon in the past or in the future — in its causes or its effects." 

Furlough to Visit Europe 355 

Having remained at the Hot Springs from March ist to 
June 2ist the invalid concluded to go somewhere else for a 
change of treatment and started at once for Little Rock and 
St. Louis, where "cholera is frightful.*' 

** Stem wheeler Arm5/rowg, Jime 23, 1849. • • • The cholera 
is on the river. Several have recently been its victims and 
the boat is stripped of its carpets and cleansed (so they say) . 
I slept on board last night. An old mosquito bar let in millions 
of mosquitoes that could not find their way out again. After 
enduring tortures from them all night, I let them out this 

The philosopher had evidently read the Vedas and Puranas 
to good purpose and learned the Oriental lesson of the sacred- 
ness of life. He reached Cairo on June 26th. 

"On shore there is an old frame building apparently un- 
occupied at the extreme point where the Mississippi and 
Ohio meet, bearing the sign * Hotel'; a few hundred yards 
further up the Ohio are three or four decayed wooden buildings 
including two stores — dry (and wet) goods — whiskey plenty — 
and a few more contemptible shanties. There are two large 
steamers run ashore, stripped of their engines, and used as 
hotels, and several old-fashioned flat boats up in the swamp 
used as * saloons.* This is Cairo in 1849 — ^^he same as it 
was eight years ago, plus cholera." 

It is a coincidence perhaps worth noting that the time 
here referred to is about that in which Dickens visited 
the spot and on his return home immortalized Cairo in his 
American Notes and "Eden" in Martin Chuzzlewit. 

"St. Louis, June 30. Half past 12 at night. Cannot sleep 
and have lit a candle. I am at my old home — my friend's. 
The family are not particularly alarmed about the cholera, 
which now rages in the city, carrying off more than 100 in- 
habitants daily out of a population reduced by death and 
desertion from some 65,000 to 35,000. The mortality is 
tremendous. Funeral processions in the street, but little 
business. ... I have been sick during the evening and have 
just taken some cholera drops. If I am to be a victim of 
cholera, I do not know that I have any particular objection 
at this time, except that I would wish not to give trouble and 
alarm to my friends here." 

35^ Fifty Years in Camp and Field 

He here calls attention to his previous ** wills'* inscribed in 
his diaries and mentions the numbers of the little books wherein 
they may be found. He amends sundry dispositions of his 
real and personal property, his library — ^now some thousands 
of volumes, — ^the letters from "admirable friends," and **the 
commissions of my father, signed by both President Wash- 
ington and the elder Adams." 

**As to my opinions," he writes during these morning 
hours, "they have been strengthening with years. Although 
I understand but little, I know enough to be content, and wish 
those much joy who know more. . . . My convictions will 
chiefly be found in my note-books. They have been tending 
to unity since 1840, and I note here simply that I have nothing 
to disavow in them, immature though they may be. With 
regard to the Scriptures I adopt the views of Strauss chiefly, 
and think the controversial world would be improved by 
adopting his temper. 

"St. Louis, July 10. Yesterday I received leave of absence 
for twelve months for the benefit of my health from General 
Scott, with leave to ask permission from the War Department 
to visit Europe. (This is required by Army Regulations.) 
Wrote yesterday asking for such permission, adding that if I 
could be useful while in Europe in furnishing information of 
current events or otherwise, I should esteem myself especially 
honored by receiving the commands of the Secretary of War." 



THE health of General Hitchcock had been going from bad 
to worse ever since the trying and exhausting summers 
in Mexico. He had come to doubt if he should ever be a 
well man again, and when distinguished physicians recom- 
mended the baths of Germany and Turkey he agreed to try the 
prescription ''as a last resort." On receipt of the news that 
such a long leave of absence had been granted him, therefore^ 
he started eastward at once and on July 2 2d arrived at West 
Point. There he "shook hands with General Scott and mem- 
bers of his staff." 

"I was soon informed that, on hearing of the death of Col- 
onel Duncan, General Scott immediately addressed a letter to 
the War Department recommending me for the appointment of 
Inspector-General of the army of the United States. This is 
perhaps all the honor I shall receive, and this is well worth 
having. ... I have leave from the War Department to 
visit Europe. Not to be wanting in mere form, I have respect- 
fully applied to the President and the Secretary of War for the 
position General Scott has recommended me for, but it is doubt- 
less already decided not to give it to me. I have many things 
against me; first, my association with General Scott, to whom 
the President is hostile (not even allowing the General to 
establish head -quarters in Washington) ; then, I have come 
here where Scott is instead of going to Washington, etc., etc. 


35^ Fifty Years in Camp and Field 

*'Aug. 6, 1849, N^w York. I have been to Washington 
and talked a couple of hours with the President, but as he said 
nothing about the Inspector-General vacancy I said nothing. 
After leaving the White House, however, I dropped him a note. 
Have just received from him what he probably considers a 
friendly letter, in which he says that knowing the state of my 
health he thought I would neither desire nor accept the ap- 
pointment. His letter dodges the subject: so be it." 

During the first week of August Hitchcock started for 
Europe, his first visit there. He stayed a month in London; 
four days in Holland ; made his way in turn to Cologne, Leipsic 
(during a fair), Vienna — 'Very, very splendid, but painful to 
look on when one reflects on the tyrannical system by which 
it is supported" — Buda-Pesth, and at last Constantinople, via 
the Black Sea. 

In this book of 193 pages, filled with the diarist *s delicate 
vertical writing, there is not a paragraph of introspection or 
metaphysics. It is wholly appropriated to descriptions of his 
travels, the last half being allotted to the strange sights and- 
experiences of the Sultan's capital. He is awakened by the 
sentinel muezzin, sees the dervishes in their protean exercise, 
inspects in slippers the great mosque of St. Sophia, patronizes 
the fantastic bazaars, visits Scutari, crosses the Bosphorus, 
takes innumerable Turkish baths, "every one of them an 
event," is called upon and offered courtesies by members of 
the American legation, sees the Sultan and assists the Turkish 
general in reviewing the troops of the empire, and inspecting 
forts, evolutions, and big guns. He observes and records 
many of the singular local fashions and observances, among 
them this: "Turks never thank any one for a favor: they 
thank God." Virtue is its own reward. 

Our traveller concluded that his health was not improving 
and started for the cities of the Mediterranean on Dec. 8, 1849. 
Apparently not much escaped his attention. In his winter 
diary he tells with great elaborateness of multitudinous strange 
sights and sounds. He describes the Hellespont and recalls 
many classical allusions to the region and to the Cyclades and 
the other romantic isles of Greece, half veiled in the mists of 
the December morning and of poetry and antiquity. On the 
steamer is a Turkish bey and six wives, who are objects of 

A Quiet Insane Asylum 359 

attention. At Smyrna and Trieste, Dec. 8, he resolves to go 
to Athens, and on the nth while on his way is intercepted 
and put in quarantine at Syra. The passengers are all im- 
prisoned in the lazaretto, and he is assigned to a cell fronting 
the sea for four days. It is tedious. He has time for phi- 
losophizing. "The people are over kind to me, taking such 
special care lest I should catch some disease from them! 
I shall have to watch every trivial occurrence, pour passer 
le temps.'' Nobody speaks English, but he makes himself 
understood in French. He tells us what sort of people his 
companions seem to be, and how they divert or occupy them- 
selves. Is evidently amused by his environments: "Fifty 
other listless prisoners — a quiet insane asylum. They saunter 
around in a small circle, as if imagining they are thinking of 
something." The acoustic properties of the cell proved to be 
good and he exclaims . ' ' Why did the devil induce me to pack 
away my flute in the box I left with our consul at Smyrna? 
This is one of the finest musical rooms I have seen these 
many, many years, with a fine reverberation.'* 

The hours are heavy. No books. So he watches his 
unhappy associates and indulges in conjectures about them. 

At last he escapes from his cell, waits four days more 
for a steamer, wrestles with passports and customs, and 
reaches Athens on Dec. 20th. Here he exhibits much energy 
in seeing all the famous ruins and memorable places. He 
purchases many souvenirs of the historic spot, climbs Hymet- 
tus, and Pentelicus, examines the celebrated marble quarries, 
goes to Eleusis, and is not greatly impressed with the average 
modem Greeks who mislead a stranger in his wanderings, beg 
of him at every turn, and overcharge him at the hotel. And 
he indignantly breaks out : 

"Shades of Socrates, of Plato, of Aristotle, of Plutarch! 
Let me curse these modem Greek reptiles and fall into thy 
ranks! I would rather be damned with Plato and Bacon than 
go to Heaven with Paley and Malthus. 

"At dinner yesterday introduced to a Greek who under- 
stood English, and on my confessing the satisfaction I had 
foimd in visiting the remains of antiquity, he thanked me as 
if I had intended a compliment to him! What had he to do 
with the scattered fragments of his country's former grandeur? 

360 Fifty Years in Camp and Field 

So a Greek guide said, * There our fleet lay going to the siege of 

The Colonel had caught cold on the Mediterranean, of 
course, and he tells in his daily chronicle what he did for it: 

** Finding some rum I have ordered some aqua caliente, 
sugar, etc., and have drank a hot drink — lemon-juice in it — a 
sort of pimch. Don't like it. I am not entitled to the small- 
est credit for my sobriety, for I do not take the smallest pleas- 
ure in drinking liquors of any kind. There is nothing, so far 
as I know, which I do to excess, and if this is not temperance 
what is? If I were to live my life over again, I do not know 
how I could change it in these particulars. I have been some- 
thing of a necessarian since 18 19, and so far as that doctrine 
has influenced me, it has been a restraint; for I have never 
tolerated the idea that I could do anything without its proper 
and necessary effect. 

**Calimachi, Greece, Tuesday, Jan. i, 1850; New Year's 
Day, the middle ( ?) of the nineteenth century, finds me here, 
on the east side of the strait of Corinth." 

He visits Corinth and wanders among its ruins for two 
days, proceeds to Corfu on Jan. 5th, thence north to Ancona, 
Trieste, Venice, his entrance to which he rapturously records 
on Jan. 1 2th. 

This ordinarily calm and undemonstrative man has en- 
thusiasms in Venice which, without hesitation or affected sto- 
icism, he transmits to his pages. But he also notes that his 
health does not mend. 

"Perhaps my health is permanently broken — at 51. I 
positively deny that I am sad about it, yet I would wish to 
have good health and would make any sacrifice to secure it. 
I have lived to know that I am immortal — not by the gift of 
God but by the very same law which secures his immortality — 
not in my body, as I am, but in the essence or principle with- 
out which I should have no body, which essence is self -existent 
— was never created and can never die. I see no reason for 
concealing this conviction, though there are fools enough in 
the world who regard this sort of language as blasphemy." 

In Constantinople, Athens, and Venice he was most im- 
pressed by a marvellous development of the fine arts which 
he had not before known. Music was always a solace of 

Vesuvius in Eruption 361 

his solitude, and now came architecture, painting, and sculp- 
ture with their unlimited satisfactions. He also sought 
every opportunity to increase his knowledge of the physical 
sciences during this tour of Europe and frequently exclaimed 
with pleasure on hearing of some new achievement of the 
geologist or astronomer. In the cities of the Levant he found 
little scientific research and much devoutness. 

From *'the Queen of the Adriatic" he made his way 
with brief pauses through the chief cities of Italy, — to Padua, 
to Verona, to Milan, to Genoa, to Leghorn, to Pisa, to Flor- 
ence, to Pisa again, to Civita Vecchia, to Naples, where he 
arrived on Jan. 30th. 

February and March he spends in Italy, delighted with 
the great art of the Renaissance and making copious records 
of opinions, criticisms, emotions. His pencil was never 
before so busy or his diaries so many. He chronicles his 
impressions in six or eight compact pages every day. The 
most of this is written for his own subsequent use — "to 
jog my memory,'* as he puts it, as to places and dates. 
During these winter months he visits and revisits the princi- 
pal show-places of Italy — ^the large cities, their famous envi- 
rons, and their art-treasures. 

He revels in reminiscences concerning the historic places 
of Naples, visits the suburbs, and identifies in his own mind 
**the spot where Shelly felt the lines written in dejection 
on the Bay of Naples.'* 

He finds Vesuvius in violent eruption and hears its roar 
fifteen miles distant, "not sharp and quick, like the noise 
of artillery, — more like the echo of a piece of heavy ordnance 
from a single face of a mountain with an irregular surface." 
Every five or six seconds — "as regularly as the beating of a 
watch." Later it roars without intermission — "the roar 
reaching us distinctly in the city amid the rattling of wagons, 
the ringing of bells, the dash and moan of the sea, and the 
hum of the multitude. People are alarmed. Very unusual. 
Greatest eruption of the generation. Bay and surrounding 
country hidden by pall of smoke. Damage reported to the 
country lying imder the mountain. 

" Been in the streets looking at the carnival of the Neapoli- 
tans, and regretting that ready-made clothing does not grow 

362 Fifty Years in Camp and Field 

on trees for their sakes, in gardens open to the public. With 
this and macaroni these would be the happiest people on 

"Sunday, Feb. 10. Dined with Mr. Marsh, 1 our Minister 
to Constantinople. In the afternoon joined his party to 
Vesuvius, whose present eruption is more tremendous and 
terrible than any man living here can remember. We started 
off about four o'clock. Passed some Italian troops preceded 
by a brass band, led by a gorgeous drum-major. In the 
midst of his flourishes, I could not help thinking that if he 
had a grain more of sense it would spoil him for a drum- 
major. In two coaches we passed through Portici and Torre 
del Greco, aroimd the mountain to a point nearly opposite 
Naples, winding our way by torchlight through villages and 
vineyards, occasionally getting lost and turning back for 
some new pathway, hardly to be called a road, till finally 
at 12 o'clock, midnight, we found ourselves amid a crowd 
of other people in front of a lake of burning lava over six miles 
long (east and west) and with an average breadth exceeding 
two miles, making its way slowly down, at the rate, I esti- 
mated, of forty feet an hour. We stood in the midst of an 
extensive vineyard, in a forest of small trees set out for the 
purpose of supporting the vines at intervals of ten or twelve 
paces. The lava had a depth of about ten feet, the upper 
surface of which had slightly cooled, but showing fire every- 
where. As the lava moved slowly forward, encircling trees, 
first at their bases and then higher up as the flood increased, 
and of course setting them on fire, the flames along the front 
thus added to the vivid red of the lava, with the vast volumes 
of illuminated smoke — all this made a scene. 

** Villagers for miles around were assembled, some of whom 
were lying on the grotmd looking at the scene of devastation, 
while others (the poor) were busily collecting wood for their 
homes. From the top of the mountain, which seemed almost 
over us, but yet concealed by smoke, there belched forth a 
continual roar, like the breaking of immense waves on an 

> George P. Marsh, the eminent author, diplomatist, and philologist, 
made such a brilliant success of this mission that he was appointed by 
President Lincoln Minister to Italy and held the mission for twenty-one 

Vesuvius in Eruption 363 

abrupt shore, mingled with ocasional reports, like those of 

"I am now convinced that ordinarily the flow of lava, 
tmless very near the cone, or crater, is so measured and slow 
that any one having the use of his limbs can retire before it 
without the least difficulty, and therefore I am certain that 
very few people have ever been imbedded in lava, and I can- 
not conceive why any one was destroyed in 79, at Pompeii, 
five miles from the base of the cone. Probably by an earth- 
quake or ashes. 

" Last evening when we were on this side of the mountain 
— windward side — we could distinctly see the crater, and its 
roar was awful and terrific. Large bodies of molten lava, 
at short intervals, were thrust upward in a cylindrical form 
with a spherical top. The column would rise through the 
air, I cannot say how far, some said 900 feet, in an imbroken 
mass, vividly red, and then would open out or explode and 
break into millions of stars, which would continue to rise to 
various elevations and then, describing regular curves, would 
fall into and around the crater, — something like what is called 
a star rocket, but infinitely more brilliant and grand. 

"This eruption has already destroyed a large amount of 
property and burned many buildings, some clusters rising 
in importance to the dignity of villages. 

"Tuesday, Feb. 12. . . . When we were, two days 
since, in front of the lake of lava on the Pompeiian side, the 
lava was not more than one or two himdred yards from the 
road. Here we observed a church and many other buildings. 
As we came away and passed from under the smoke so as to 
see up the moimtain to the crater, we noticed a perfect river 
of lava of wonderful brilliance from the very top of the cone 
to the bottom. We have since learned that this was a fresh 
outburst ; that it crossed the road at the two points in half 
an hour after we left it, and that, if we had remained, we 
should have been caught in the fork of the lava-flow, with 
our retreat to the carriages cut off. We should then have 
been compelled to foot it around through the lower-lying 
vineyards and get home as we could. That new acces- 
sion of lava destroyed the church the same night. ... A 
German was killed that evening in venturing too near the 

364 Fifty Years in Camp and Field 

crater, and two others (one an American from our navy) 
seriously, perhaps mortally, wounded by a shower of red-hot 
scoria. ... I think Naples will some time be destroyed 
by its terrible neighbor. God be thanked, I have seen this 
volcano in action: but I did not need it to be taught the 
lesson of my own insignificance. 

"Beggars everywhere besetting me — besieging me — ^run- 
ning me down — even in the cathedral — old men, old women, 
one-armed and one-legged people, boys and girls, all pressing 

Our traveller is not only annoyed by beggars, but he is 
singularly exasperated by the extortions of hotels and places 
of entertainment and of all who can force their attentions 
on a foreigner in Italy — singularly, because he is of a remark- 
ably calm and placid temperament and this natural tran- 
quillity is reinforced by his philosophy. He labels these 
exactions "blackmail'* and "swindles on strangers," and 
moves along patiently concluding that "there must be about 
so much of tMs in life. " 

In Rome 7000 French soldiers held the city, which 
seemed to the diarist highly improper. "Great Ghost of 
Julius Caesar!" 

Travel in Italy in 1850 was almost entirely by stage — 
generally a poor outfit and for an invalid fatiguing beyond 
conception. But this mode of conveyance enabled the travel- 
ler to see more of the rural population than are visible in 
detail from a railroad car — more, often, than he wished to 
see, for he had to dodge highwaymen at the cross-roads. 
He spent all the time he could in Florence, and at the Pitti 
and other galleries studied and took copious notes. 

He left Florence in the evening of March i8th, "in order to 
reach the vicinity of Bologna by daylight — a region infested 
by stage-robbers." By travelling night and day he reached 
Milan in three days — ''on the whole a delightful journey, 
through the vineyards of Italy. I have come all the way 
from Rome by diligence, " he adds; and from Milan he coaches 
northward for three days more over the Simplon Pass, to 
Geneva. With much regret he omits Mont Blanc from his 
itinerary on accoimt of the intense cold, and takes passage, 
again in the diligence, for Paris. At the frontier is examined, 

A Course at Wiesbaden 365 

but allowed to retain his pistol *'on account of rank.'* Ar- 
rives in Paris on March 30th, and finds many friends. 

" Met Mr. Kendall of the Picayune. He tells me that his 
history of the Mexican War is just ready to come out. Has 
just received a copy of Major Ripley's book,— a book pre- 
pared at General Pillow's residence in Tennessee and really 
little more than a defence of General Pillow and an attack 
on everybody else, even my humble self. I made the first 
expose of the charlatan pretensions of General Pillow." 

For nearly two months our traveller tarries in Paris. He 
apparently leaves little iminspected that is accessible. It is 
not necessary to review the sights of the gay capital here. 
Louis Napoleon was President and was striving to amuse 
the people. The great Haussmann was already reconstructing 
Paris on lines of novel beauty. But there had been fighting 
in the streets within a few months, and everybody looked 
for tumult and barricades again. The military visitor in- 
spected the troops, estimated their probable strength, studied 
the situation, and tarried from week to week that he might 
see whatever was to happen — reading Comte's Positive Phi- 
losophy in the intervals of sight-seeing and conjecture. 

** Paris, May 18, 1850. — My landlady promises fighting in 
the streets to-morrow — but she knows nothing about it. I 
am booked for Brussels to-morrow morning, but I would wait 
if I thought there would be an attempt at revolution here." 

The next day he is at Brussels and Waterloo. The ** revo- 
lution" does not immediately materialize. More than a 
year passes before the President launches his famous coup 
d'etat in the face of France and makes himself Emperor in 
fact and name. 

Through all his sight-seeing and metaphysics this travel- 
ler is compelled to keep constantly in mind — himself. His 
infirmities, which he attributes to inevitable exposures during 
the Mexican War, seem to increase rather than diminish. 
He tries many famed physicians and many methods, and now 
resolves to try the German springs, which he reaches, via 
Bonn, Cologne, the Rhine, to Wiesbaden in Nassau, his desti- 
nation, on May 24th. While philosophically going through 
the daily routine prescribed for an invalid, he finds time for 
serious meditations. 

366 Fifty Years in Camp and Field 

At Wiesbaden he stays from May 24th to Sept. 2d, and 
counts himself among the invalids hopeful of recovery. Here 
he has time to kill, and few to whom he can talk with profit ; 
so he talks to himself more than ever, and during the 100 
days of medication he adds 306 compact written pages to his 
diary. Reads much French and puzzles over idioms. Some 
of the time is spent in sight-seeing, some in making brief 
excursions to Switzerland, German cities, and places in the 
vicinity, some in philosophical reading, some in introspection, 
more in extraspection. 

"Wiesbaden, Nassau, June 8, 1850. Under advice of a 
doctor, who half starves me and keeps me in the house. . . . 
I see that an expedition has really been 'got up* at New 
Orleans designed to revolutionize Cuba and from 4000 to 
10,000 men under Lopez are said to be engaged in it. U. S. 
vessel ordered to intercept. Much excitement. . . . The 
English haters of the United States ought to see prospec- 
tively the dissolution of our Union as the probable result of 
the extension of our territory. . . . England talks of inter- 
fering with us. She had better not!'* 

In his tour aroimd Switzerland and the adjoining German 
kingdoms and duchies — Zurich, Lucerne, Interlaken, Berne, 
Baden Baden, Strasburg, Frankfurt, Heidelberg, — he reads 
a little, speculates more, and observes most. 

**By the way, a lady on the steamboat yesterday praised 
her dog to me (almost every lady in Paris has a dog which 
she proudly leads through the streets with a cord) . She told 
me that her dog was very remarkable — ^that it had a very 
short tail, and in wagging it, wagged it up and down instead 
of horizontally like common dogs! I thought of the pump- 
handle shake and wanted to laugh, but I held my counte- 
nance and praised the dog — *very remarkable dog* to give 
a pump-handle shake of its tail. Quite unique! Why not 
note these funny little trifles, instead of vain searches after 
the Infinite and Absolute?*' 

On July 26th he hears of the sudden death of General 
Taylor, President. He had previously committed to his diary 
his recollections and frank opinions of his bluff old colonel: 

** During the Mexican War Taylor had taken a violent dis- 
like to Scott. He was a man of strong and blind prejudices, 

Death of President Taylor 367 

like many a strong-minded but uneducated man. He was 
very ambitious. Though without book-learning he felt him- 
self * honest and as good as anybody.* He disliked most 
of our men in power. He saved money and lived closely. 
His table was indeed well supplied, but in his dress he was 
careless and almost slovenly. He hated bitterly; but neither 
his hatreds nor his friendships were intelligently formed. 
They were mere passions. He entered the army during the 
War of 18 1 2, and reached the rank of Major. At its close 
he was retained as Captain with the brevet of Major. He 
declined to accept the rank and retired to civil life; but he 
was taken into service again before the expiration of a year 
as Major. In 1820, he was promoted to be Lieutenant-Colonel, 
but in 182 1 the army was reduced and he was again cut down — 
retained as Major with the brevet rank of Lieutenant-Colonel. 
I was with him when he received the news. He was extremely 
mortified and again declined. But Colonel Mitchell dying he 
was brought into service again as Lieutenant-Colonel. He was 
promoted in due course to the rank of Colonel and brevetted 
Brigadier for services in Florida, and subsequently made Major- 
General for the battles of Palo Alto and Resaca de la Palma, 
or the taking of Monterey, I forget which. Finally he fought 
the glorious battle of Buena Vista, for which he was elected 
President. He was a brave soldier, but excepting this quality 
and a certain bull-headed obstinacy he was almost without 
the qualifications of a great general. He had not skill in 
making what are called combinations, and carried everything 
by a kind of blind force. When his passions were not brought 
into play he was exceedingly kind-hearted. He was very 
fond of telling and listening to anecdotes with point to them. 
He would sit by the hour, day after day, in quiet garrison 
life, and hear and tell stories — the same stories j but he studied 
nothing and depended upon others for the preparation of his 
despatches. His beautiful reports during the Mexican War 
were written by his Assistant Adjutant-General, W. W. S. 
Bliss. If he attempted to write an3rthing himself it had to 
be rewritten to *put it into English.' " 

Living a monotonous and, as it were, a vegetable life at 
this famous old watering-place, Wiesbaden, the invalided 
philosopher falls back upon his books, — Pascal, Niebuhr, 

368 Fifty Years in Camp and Field 

Schiller, Goethe, Rochefoucault, Hegel, Fichte. He explains 
to his diary, and more and more as the months go by he re- 
reads Spinoza, and thinks and quotes Spinoza. Indeed, he 
may truthfully be said to have become a Spmoza-intoxicated 
man. Having pretty nearly committed the Ethics of the illus- 
trious Jew to memory, he is now reading it in French, — ^it and 
other writings of the great Dutchman. He translates fourteen 
chapters of the famous tract on Theology and Politics, and he 
says (July 26th) : 

** I am more and more struck with the clearness and calm- 
ness of that wonderful man. It is vain for me to hesitate 
to say that I find myself more in harmony with Spinoza than 
with any other man, dead or alive, — ^not that I fully under- 
stand or agree with him in all his demonstrations in the Ethics, 
but I understand no other writings better, and there is a 
spirit in his investigations above all praise. ... I am so 
earnestly carried forward in the Tract that I cannot stop to 
write. . . . If — ^if — ^love could last, I would throw philosophy 
to the winds, or that should be my philosophy; but of all 
things in the world, unless it be the * collied lightning, * it is 
the briefest and most illusory, though it be an illusion never 
to be forgotten and never to be regretted. . . . Philosophy 
is the first and foremost blessing in the world. " 



THE traveller had not forgotten home, its requirements 
and its attractions. After being five weeks at Wiesbaden 
scrupulously taking baths and following the elaborate 
advice of the doctors, he felt sure that his health had not 
improved at all and became impatient to return to America. 
So he left Wiesbaden on Sept. 2, 1850, and reached London 
three days later, and Liverpool, via Eastern England and 
Scotland, on Sept. 2 ist. He utilized four days in going through 
Scotland and Wales, and took ship for New York on the 25th. 

"Made Halifax Light and, firing signal guns, threw over 
twelve to fifteen kegs with iron keels and a flag (white, with 
black spot in the middle, held aloft on a stick three or four 
feet long stuck in the bunghole) . Within the keg was a small 
tin box containing slips of news to be communicated from 
Halifax if found. The New York papers employ a boat to 
be on the lookout. '* 

Arrived at New York on "the noble ship** on October 9th 
— fourteen days from Liverpool. 

General Scott sent complimentary salutations from Wash- 
ington and ordered General Hitchcock to that city, to serve as 
a member of a board of officers — composed of General Scott, 
General Jesup, General Wool, and three others, "to settle 
questions of rank among officers of the army.** His daring 
circular letter on brevet rank and his bitter controversies 
with General Scott upon the question had admirably qualified 
him for useful service on such a board. 

During the slow progress of the studies of this board Gen- 

24 369 

370 Fifty Years in Camp and Field 

eral Hitchcock found time to write an article for a Washington 
newspaper in opposition to Secretary Seward's affirmation 
that people ought to obey a higher law than the Constitution. 
This protest was printed conspicuously and copied widely. 
At the moment Seward's speech was being generally discussed. 
His critic begins by declaring that, "like many others who go 
abroad from this happy coimtry, I have returned a better 
American, if possible, than when I left these Western shores," 
and then proceeds to make an earnest plea for the supremacy 
of the Constitution. The patriotic spirit of it can be given 
by a brief quotation : 

"Among the dangerous doctrines I hear on my return — 
the more dangerous because making an illusory appeal to 
conscience — ^is one, that there is a higher principle than 
the Constitution of the United States, or a * higher duty* 
than maintaining the Constitution. I deny that there is 
any such higher duty which is at all in conflict with the 

"In all human affairs, as the world's history shows, a 
government — I had almost said the worst possible govern- 
ment — ^is better than anarchy, except, indeed, that out of 
anarchy a government of some kind, generally an absolute 
government, is sure to arise; and to bring about a change of 
government, when no other means are left, it may be neces- 
sary, it may even be a duty, to involve a coimtry temporarily 
in anarchy. But can any one be so insane as to imagine 
that we in this beautiful and prosperous cotmtry, in this 
blessed land, which is the hope of the oppressed all over the 
world — can any one be so insane as to imagine that the govern- 
ment of the United States is in such a condition that, in order 
to change it, it is necessary to pltmge the country into anarchy ! 
Yet this * higher duty* sentiment, as I hear it uttered, leads 
directly to anarchy; for it coimsels disobedience or resistance 
to the proper laws of the land as unconstitutional, without 
even an appeal to the Supreme Court of the United States, 
which was created by the Constitution for the determination 
of such questions; and this on the delusive assumption that 
there is a law higher than the Constitution itself. 

"While I was abroad, my coimtrymen, I was everywhere 
struck with a single peculiarity in which our government 

The Constitution and the ** Higher Law" 371 

differs from those of Europe; a principle in which we have 
taken a lead in the worid, and for the maintenance of which 
the worid has a right to hold us accountable; it is this: that 
while in the several governments of Europe the privileges of 
the people are enjoyed by grants from the government — 
by concessions, often wrung from the governments with the 
greatest difficulty and at an immense cost of life and treasure — 
in our happy country, the power of the government is a grant 
from the people. This is the essential difference between 
those governments and ours. 

**I am willing to grant to those whose consciences are 
tender on the subject of slavery that in absolute governments, 
which do not proceed from the people, and which do not 
contain within themselves any provision for their change 
under the progressive improvement of the world, there may 
be, and at times there certainly is, a * higher duty ' than obe- 
dience. But I utterly deny, speaking in reference to the con- 
dition of man as established by God himself in the world, 
that in our country there is or can be any * higher duty, * in 
conflict with the Constitution, than that of maintaining the 
Constitution; and this for the simple reason that the Consti- 
tution is a creation by the people and contains within itself 
a provision for its alteration and improvement. No govern- 
ment in the world ever has been or can be established on any 
higher principle than our own ; and therefore it is a plain con- 
tradiction to say that its overthrow can be justified by an 
appeal to any principle whatever. 

"Europeans of what are called the middle classes are 
everywhere full of curiosity and hope in respect to our coimtry 
and its institutions; and the opinion is just now becoming 
universal, in spite of every effort to keep it down, that we 
are a prosperous and happy people, under a legitimate and 
permanent government. I maintain that, while the Consti- 
tution provides within itself the means of change, by which 
any supposed evils under it may be avoided, it is the ' highest 
duty' of every citizen desiring a change to resort only to those 
means, and if he cannot succeed he is bound to regard the 
voice of the country, expressed through the Constitution, 
as the voice of God. " 

"Washington, Nov. 6, 1850. Called yesterday and paid 

372 Fifty Years in Camp and Field 

my respects to the President and his wife and daughter. I had 
seen them all before, the President when he was a member of 
the House of Representatives, and his wife and daughter I 
travelled with the other day from Philadelphia. Mr. Fillmore 
looks remarkably well, and his manners are sufficiently culti- 
vated, though he is rather too large a man, with heavy round 
shoulders, giving him an ox-like appearance. His dress, 
plain, indeed, was stiff and he seemed not used to it, especially 
his high stiff shirt-collar which looked as if cut out of a board. 
Madam is a large strong-featured woman. She and her 
daughter rose to receive me and continued standing till I 
desired them to be seated. This was not exactly conventional. 
The President spoke of my visit to Europe and of my service 
on the board of officers." 

Then he goes on, reading, speculating, dreaming, comparing 
philosophical theories and earnestly endeavoring to fit them 
to human life and human responsibility, enjoying far more 
a conclusion that seems to let in light upon his pathway than 
a visit to the President's or a promise of promotion. 

So here he stands, at fifty-two, waiting with more or less 
patience, from day to day, for General Scott to draft and pre- 
sent a certain *' project" — an outline of rules to govern the 
relations of brevet and other rank in the army. The succeed- 
ing booklet (204 pages) runs from November 8, 1850, to May 
15, 185 1, and is largely a chronicle of personal and family 
occurrences, with intermittent philosophical speculations and 
free comments upon the conduct of the government in the 
middle of Fillmore's administration. 

** Washington, D. C, Nov. 8, 1850. Dined at the Presi- 
dent's yesterday, with the members of both the army and 
navy board to report on rank. Ample in everything. Went 
off very well. Dine with Secretary of War Conrad to-morrow. 

"Washington, Nov. 24. General Scott stept in yesterday 
and took me off to dinner. 

"Nov. 27. Wednesday. Drawing near the close of our 
report in relation to Rank — shall close, perhaps, to-morrow. 
I claim to have indicated the proper principle for framing 
the law of brevet rank so as to avoid the misconstructions 
and controversies which have heretofore agitated the army. 

" General Scott prepared a project for the consideration of 

In Washington on Special Service 373 

the Board, in which he included the very fault of the existing 
6ist Article of War, to wit: a grant of power and also a 
restriction, not enumerating all possible cases that might 
occur. I proposed to make first brevet rank valid and effective 
when exercised with other rank 'except under the following 
restrictions. * Then I proposed to specify all the restrictions, 
so that, when not restricted, brevet rank shall be valid. This 
was unanimously agreed to. Whether our project will pass 
into law remains to be seen. . . . Everybody seems in this 
matter to think first of himself. 

** General Scott gave a large party last evening: invited 
me but I did not go; excused myself this morning at the 
meeting of the board. When the board adjourned the General 
invited me to take a family dinner with him to-day. This 
was kind, but I begged him to excuse me — ^that I did not feel 
well. The fact is I dislike parties so much that the thought 
of going to one is almost enough to make me sick. 

" Nov. 28. Went to church to-day with General Scott and 
General Wool. General S. leaned on me going and coming." 



THE board for the establishment of the relations of rank 
accomplished its work and promptly adjourned. Gen- 
eral Hitchcock was then appointed to another board to 
consider and report on the expediency of creating the grade 
of Lieutenant-General in the army, as a compliment to Gen- 
eral Scott. The board reported in favor of the project and ad- 
journed. General Scott then requested General Hitchcock to 
suggest his wishes for further employment in the army, and, 
they being stated, he received orders to join his regiment in 
New Mexico in the spring. This left him with time upon his 
hands — a virtual leave of absence of some months — '' till grass 
is on the prairies.'* He visits friends, commtmes with con- 
genial students of philosophy, and resumes his speculations. 

** Washington, Jan. 14, 185 1. Arrived from Baltimore 
about 10.30 and called immediately upon General Scott. 
Well received and invited to dine to-day at 4. . . . Later : 
Have just come in from dinner." 

More than five hundred pages in these closely packed 
diaries of 1850 and 185 1 are taken up with philosophical 
arguments and speculations, and the diarist lies awake nights 
solving abstruse problems, rises before morning and lights 
a candle to record his method of demonstrating some pro- 
position or copy some scholium in Spinoza's Ethics and obvi- 
ously esteems ideas far more highly than things — or, rather, 
to him ideas are things. Thus absorbed in metaphysical 
monologue, he gives us few details of his important public 
acts and few particulars concerning the distinguished people 


Hitchcock Urges Pre-eminent Claims of Scott 375 

with whom he dines. Half a dozen times during as many- 
years he chronicles here his wish to resign his commission so 
that he can devote more time to study, but still he listlessly 
retains his place in the army, and gets what satisfaction he 
can in the intervals of service by reading more books and 
dwelling with his "high imperious thoughts." 

Our reasoner is obviously a monist: he believes there is 
but one Substance in the imiverse and this Substance he calls 
God. This is the very definition of pantheism — a doctrine 
to which he consistently adheres, through all the recondite 
propositions of Spinoza and all the syllogisms of logic. 

*' Washington, Feb. i. Dined yesterday with Secretary of 
War C. M. Conrad of Louisiana. Many officers present, and 
members of military committees of Senate and House. Met 
old friends. Had a cordial meeting with Jeff. Davis, once a 
cadet under my orders at West Point, since Colonel of the 
Mississippi regiment at Buena Vista, and now a distinguished 
senator and chairman of the Military Committee. Mr. Conrad 
sat in the middle on one side of the table and placed Colonel 
Davis at his right end and Mr. Burt, the House chairman, 
at the other end. He placed Mr. Granger at his right and 
me at his left. General Greene directly opposite — ^the rest 
scattered. Dined at 5 p.m. Handsome lights and other or- 
namental things on the table. Meats, etc., brought in and 
handed round h V Europe. After leaving table coffee handed 
round and we took leave. I came home and copied Spinoza 
till a quarter before midnight. 

"Evening, Feb. 11, and I have completed the copy of 
the Ethics — upwards of 580 pages — commenced, I think, 
about the middle of last month. This is the second copy 
(translation) I have made, and I have not succeeded to my 
satisfaction. But I have a better comprehension of the work 
than I have yet had. 

"Washington, Feb. 18. ... A joint resolution was 
passed by the Senate a few days ago authorizing the President 
to fill by brevet the grade of Lieut enant-General. General 
Scott sent for me. I called and found him full of excitement 
— hope and anxiety. He asked me to dine with him that 
day. I did so and foimd him still flushed with expectation. 
He told me I must not leave Washington before the adjourn- 

37^ Fifty Years in Camp and Field 

ment of Congress. I wrote and printed in the Republic 
(anonymously) a long article setting forth his high ments 
as a soldier." 

The spirit of this generous tribute will be sufficiently in- 
dicated by the following extracts: 

"The great modem German poet, perhaps the greatest poet 
since Shakespeare, has set it down as among the marks of a great 
man that he must have the genius to conceive clearly a distinct 
object, with the knowledge and ability to bring the means into 
action necessary to secure the accomplishment of the object. 
Let us take one point at a time, and, in view of this mark of a 
great man, let us see how General Scott has fulfilled the condition; 
and, if he has fulfilled the condition, let us see, at the same time, 
whether he has employed his ability in the service of his country. 

"It may be seen, by the documents printed by order of Con- 
gress, that General Scott, before leaving the capital of his country 
for the seat of war, proposed a plan for ending the war with Mexico 
with honor to his country. Without having had the smallest 
agency himself in bringing on the war, and being of the party, 
so far as of any party, supposed to be opposed to the war, yet, 
finding the country engaged in the war, he came forward like a 
patriot, with a clear and distinct plan for ending it with honor; 
and not only made the conception of this plan in the city of Wash- 
ington, but perfectly matured it, even to its minutest details, 
before leaving this city. Let any one examine the memorial 
addressed by the General to the War Department, exhibiting his 
plan, and then look at the history of the campaign itself, and he 
will be amazed at the directness and clearness in which the object 
is conceived and the completeness and minuteness of the means 
indicated for securing the success of the plan, with the prescience 
with which the actual result was foreseen. 

"This greatness, so strikingly exhibited on a grand scale before 
the campaign was commenced, was no less shown in every opera- 
tion and field of battle, from Vera Cruz to the Mexican capital. 
A most remarkable instance of it was exhibited at the battle of 
Cerro Gordo. So completely was the modus operandi of the battle, 
and its immediate consequences, set forth in the Order for the 
battle, directing the manner of accompHshing the object, that the 
London Times could not refrain from expressing its admiration 
and astonishment, pointing out the Order as in some sort a his- 
tory of the events and consequences of the battle. . . . 

"A single event in the city of Mexico will suffice to give the 

Brigadier-General by Brevet 377 

very highest evidence of this. After the American army had been, 
during several months, in possession of the capital of Mexico, 
the municipal authorities of the city, in their official capacity, 
paid General Scott the extraordinary compliment of inviting him 
to a public entertainment, provided at great expense, in the most 
magnificent style, at a remarkable old ruin (a deserted Capuchin 
monastery called La desierta) situated in a romantic spot in the 
mountains, some fifteen or seventeen miles from the city, where the 
sentiments of the Mexicans, as delivered in their toasts and speeches, 
were filled with the most touching testimonials of respect and 
homage to a public enemy, whom they delighted to honor as a man. 
** Where, in the annals of war, can such an instance be found, 
such a testimony to the justice, generosity, and humanity of an 
enemy at the very capital of the conquered country, and the wit- 
nesses the very functionaries of the civil government of that 
capital? And where is there an American whose heart does not 
throb with pride at the knowledge of this evidence of greatness 
and goodness united in his representative in command of his 
army in a foreign country, furnishing an example for admiration 
and emulation in all future time?" 

**Feb. 19 [1851]. More negro troubles in Boston. . . . 
All these things look towards a rupture in our otherwise 
happy and prosperous country. We are, I think, to have 
great national troubles. Is it possible that no government 
is stable among men and that a monarchy is the most stable 
of all? 

*' Washington, Feb. 23. The clothing board, over which 
I have presided, closed its proceedings yesterday and adjourned 
sine die. 

"Feb. 24. I called on General Scott to say that I would 
leave Washington if my presence there was not required. He 
said he wished to see me in presence of the Secretary of War 
to talk about New Mexico, where things were in a bad state. 
I was to command there, he said, and he had sent in my name 
for a brevet (Brigadier-General) which would make my situa- 
tion more comfortable. The brevet would be very important 
to me, but I fear it is too late in the session for the Senate to 
act on the brevet, even if disposed. 

" March 4. General Scott tells me that my name has been 
sent to the Senate for a brevet of Brigadier — ^that the Presi- 
dent has called an extra session of the Senate and it will 


Fifty Years in Camp and Field 

probably then act upon the army nominations. I wonder if 
I shall be so lucky ? However, it is external to me, and my 
peace comes from within and has been daily, daily, daily 
perfecting itself for years and years. 

** March lo, evening. I was mistaken about the fate of 
the nomination for a brevet. I am a Brigadier -General. How- 
ever, I do not care much about it. It is late in life for me to 
be pleased with such external things. I was more pleased 
with my first appointment as a cadet in 1814." 



ON March 12 the newly honored diarist left Washington 
for his command in New Mexico — a long and tedious 
journey, chiefly by canal boat and stage. 

Arrived at St. Louis he received a fervent welcome at his 
old friend's where for years he had made his home. Since 
he went to Europe the little daughter of the household, who 
had entered strongly into his affections, had suddenly died, 
and he records that his emotions so overcame him that he had 
great difficulty in returning the family greetings. Although 
he had never married he was always powerfully attracted by 
women and children and he strongly attracted them in return. 
In his associations he always preferred women and children 
to men, and the preference was apparently not the weaker 
for being wholly platonic. 

"St. Louis, April i, 1851. April fools* day has brought 
me a change indeed. Instead of going to New Mexico, for 
which my preparations are almost complete, I am by tele- 
graph from Washington, dated 28th March, ordered to New 
York City as superintendent of the general recruiting service. 
Here is a change! I must wait here a week, however, before 

''April 20. Not yet gone East. I heard some days since 
of the death of Colonel Brady of my regiment, and have waited 
for General Scott, who was reported at Cincinnati on his way 
West, thinking that the death might make a difference with 
my destination — for I shall now be promoted to be Colonel. 


380 Fifty Years in Camp and Field 

He has gone to New Orleans, so I now return East, obedient 
to present orders. 

"New York, April 27. Here 's a change! but it was not 
unexpected. Yesterday orders reached this city announcing 
my promotion to be Colonel of the 2d Infantry, and direct- 
ing me to join my regiment — in California. Am getting ready 
for a start. 

"Waked early this morning — about 3 — and thought of 
my thoughts on life, as usual. More and more clearly I saw 
some meaning in certain expressions in Spinoza not before 
realized — as 'an eternal mode of thinking.' It was last 
winter that for the first time the force of the idea came upon 
me that an idea itself (as of a triangle or circle) is independent 
of us and is eternal. But the breakfast bell rings. These 
ideas constitute us. We are what we think. As truth and 
existence are me, so Knowledge is Being, so far as it extends, 
and a man is what he knows. 

"Monday, 28th Apr., 5 p.m. On board steamer for Troy. 
Must go to Burlington once more and look upon the grave- 
stones of my father's family. Went to church twice yester- 
day. In the morning Rev. Mr. S. preached from Revelations, 
a sermon as dark as the Apocalypse; in the afternoon a jack- 
anapes preached on the resurrection, and assured us that we 
should know our friends hereafter — I thought 't was more 
than most of us do here. . . . Commissioner Trist, who made 
the Mexican treaty, called on me to-day. 

"Burlington, Vt., April 29. . . . Most of those I 
knew are in the graveyard, where, last evening, I wandered 
for an hour reading the inscriptions commemorating the 
death of great numbers whose names were once so familiar 
to me and whose appearance my memory recalls as if I were 
looking at them. But there they are — or their bodies are — 
in repose — eternal repose. And once or twice it crossed my 
mind that perhaps 't is just as well to be there as to be living 
the feverish life of most of us, which, be the life what it may, 
is always * rounded with a sleep.' It amazes me to think 
that people should look with terror at what is beyond the 
grave. That we should shrink from the pain which some- 
times accompanies dying is natural enough, and that those 
who have friends should regret to part with them is equally 

Command of Pacific Division 381 

natural; but that any one should fear what is beyond the 
tomb is mere wide-awake madness and folly. It is plain to 
me that the body may be justly regarded as an accretion thrown 
around the spirit, as it were limiting it; that we are, as a 
Platonic philosopher expresses it, 'the less' with the body 
than without it. It is equally plain to me that all or nearly 
all our trials, troubles, and sorrows come out of the body 
and its manifold wants. It is just as plain to me that death 
is a release from all these sorrows, and that we then sur- 
vive ourselves in our better part, the intellect, with which 
we not only know what are called eternal truths, but by 
that very capacity have the highest possible assurance of our 

At Burlington General Hitchcock saw such old friends as 
were living, was appealed to as arbiter in their quarrels, and got 
away as soon as convenient, reaching Washington May 8th. 
In passing through Philadelphia he bought several philo- 
sophical works of the 1 7th century, including a Diogenes Laer- 
tius from the Greek, 1688, and also Dodona's Grove and the 
Vocal Forest, 1640. General Scott had not yet returned from 
the Southwest, but General Hitchcock met the Secretary of 
War in the halls of the War Department. 

** Shook hands. He congratulated me on the change in 
my orders from New Mexico to California. Out of the frying- 
pan into the fire, thought I. 

** Washington, May 13. General Scott has returned. I am 
to dine with him to-day. Have special written orders for 
California, where I am to have command of the Pacific Divi- 
sion and supersede General Persifer F. Smith, who desires 
to stay there. 

" Washington, May 15. Am ready for California. Had my 
last talk with Secretary of War and General Scott to-day. 
The General shew me a private letter from General Smith in 
which he speaks of a distinct plan of the governor and Legis- 
lature of California to call out the militia, ostensibly for the 
defence of the State against the Indians, and compel this 
government to pay the privates $5 a day each and the officers 
in proportion. To carry out ttds project, the Indians are 
to be forced into war, and the pretence is that the United 
States troops are worthless for the defence of the country. 

382 Fifty Years in Camp and Field 

I foresee that I am to be placed in a delicate position, and 
that in California efforts will be made at first to use me, and, 
failing that, to abuse and destroy me. I shall hold to the 

*'I am cautioned also, both by the Secretary and General 
Scott, that several of the army officers and, it is feared, dis- 
bursing agents, are engaged in speculations inconsistent 
with their public duties. This, too, will be a delicate matter 
to handle, but I shall go strong in my purposes to do what 
is proper under all circumstances. 

**0n taking leave of the General, I told him that I had 
long foreseen that he would be the Whig candidate for the 
next Presidency, to which he assented, as if he thought so. 
I added that, in that event, every sort of lie would be uttered 
against him and his Mexican campaign; that I had hoped 
to have it in my power to meet such statements as might be 
intended to injure him — that I was well armed with facts, 
and felt able to do it. He admitted all and even intimated 
that he would not be sorry if I was nearer than California, 
but my promotion to be Colonel of the 2d Infantry, etc., etc. 
He said that in Jime last he himself wrote the title-page of 
his Memoirs, the second part to be commenced first and to 
embrace the Mexican War, of which he had written the first 
chapter when the death of President Taylor hurried him to 
Washington and he had since been too busy. He suggested 
my writing sketches and sending them to his son-in-law, Col- 
onel Scott. I said that on any given point, when called out, 
I should be perfectly at home and defied any one to beat me 
off. He said 'Yes,' as if he thought so; and I suppose he 
does think so. 

**New York, May 23 d. I have paid $330 for a passage 
to San Francisco by Chagres and Panama. Expenses over 
the Isthmus are not included, so that the journey will proba- 
bly cost $400 or over. ... I hear carriages rolling through 
Broadway, perhaps for the last time in my life, for something 
whispers me that I shall never return. It is as certain as 
anything can possibly be that to whatever begins to be, a 
termination must come. And assuredly that event is a per- 
fect balance to the birth of anything. Why is not this fact 
a ground of absolute indifference? — such indifference as was 

To California by Chagres and Panama 383 

implied by the ancient philosopher who, when he remarked 
that death is the same as life and was asked why then he did 
^ot die, replied, 'Because life is the same as death.* . . . 
Great God! what a paradise this world might be if all things 
were favorable to a perfect development of man! 

** Steamer Crescent City. Going down the harbor ; off almost 
to a minute, and what a scene the parting was ! What crowds, 
what anxious and tearful faces, aboard and ashore. Women 
bursting into floods of tears — waving of handkerchiefs. I 
could not resist the feeling of sympathy. " 

The nm down the Atlantic coast and through the Carib- 
bean Sea was pleasant and rapid, but life on board the ship 
was by no means uneventful. Some hundreds of the kind 
of people who went to El Dorado that year crowded together 
between decks would be sure to excite each other's interest 
more or less, and a curious assortment of scandals broke out 
among the passengers before they got half way to the Isthmus. 
General Hitchcock had bought in New York a large collection 
of classic and antique books, so that time did not hang heavy 
on his hands, and he was in no need of the popular diversions 
which seem to have characterized the voyage. 

All went tolerably well till they reached Chagres and 
changed to another steamer to cross the Isthmus. The cap- 
tain, with a view to carrying as many as possible, promised 
that he would go with his steamboat up to Gorgona if there 
was water enough in the river. As they proceeded the pas- 
sengers by inquiry ascertained that there was water enough; 
but the Captain, ** wishing to go back for another load, whom 
he would delude in the same way,'* stopped the steamboat 
and announced his determination to send them forward 
fourteen miles in rowboats, making it necessary for the wo- 
men and children to be out all night. Passengers violently 
protested. An old lady remonstrated with him, but he pro- 
fanely insulted her. General Hitchcock narrates the sequel : 

**I stepped between the captain and the lady. He saw 
his error and offered to apologize to the lady imder my care, 
he said. I told him that the lady was not under my care, 
except as every lady is entitled to the protection of every 
gentleman. I then told him that I was highly dissatisfied 
with his conduct. He attempted to interrupt me with explana- 

384 Fifty Years in Camp and Field 

tions, but I assumed a peremptory tone and demeanor, my 
voice rising to a high pitch, and with concentrated energy 
I said, ' We know that you can go to Gorgona, but we believe 
you have determined to sacrifice our comfort and that of 
these ladies and children for purposes of sordid gain. * Com- 
bining passion with perfect self -composure, I added, *We 
will publish you. Depend on it, I will do you all the injury 
lean.' " 

The result of this lecture in the presence of hundreds of 
excited passengers crowding around, was that the captain 
retracted, apologized, and went up to Gorgona that night. 
The passengers volubly thanked their intercessor, to his great 
embarrassment, and he adds: 

**My points were fully carried, and every passenger on 
board, I verily believe, thinks I am fully fit to be a brigadier- 

In making the difficult journey from Gorgona across to 
Panama on the Pacific the diarist is evidently much impressed 
with the horrible condition of the almost impassable roads 
and the luxuriance of the tropical vegetation differing from 
the Mexican species. Had to wait here a few days, and 
*' finally" as the diarist observes, reached San Francisco on 
the Northerner July 7th — ^twenty days from Panama. He 
philosophizes that twenty days are ''better than 140 days 
which a sailing vessel recently took for the same voyage." 
Two fires had swept over the city within the last two months, 
destroying $13,000,000 worth of property, and the vigilance 
committee had been organized to deal with important offen- 
ders, incendiaries, etc. *'The principal part of the city is 
in ruins." 

**Benicia,i Cal., July 9, 185 1. Arrived yesterday. Major 
Sewell had prepared to receive me with a salute — which 
I dispensed with. This is the head-quarters of the divis- 
ion, including Oregon and California. I assumed command 

" Benicia, July 19. I have broken ground against reputed 
corruption, and have written a letter to Col. , a com- 
missioner in the Indian Department to treat with Indians in 

» Benicia is thirty miles from San Francisco, on the northeast extremity 
of the bay. 

Corrupt Official Called to Account 385 

this country, telling him of the rumor of his misconduct and 
declining to furnish him an escort to go among the Indians 
until he makes satisfactory explanation. Instead of explain- 
ing the rimiors or denying their truth, he promises to explain. 
We shall see. To cope with corruption in this country requires 
both firmness and honesty and may need support from Wash- 
ington. I have succeeded heretofore in these conflicts and 
ought not to fail now. 

''Benicia, Aug. 3 (Simday). I must send for my books, 
now at Dr. Beaumont's in St. Louis — over 2000 volumes, 
I think perhaps 2500. I shall be in danger of frittering away 
my time without them, and if I had them I could look into 
some matters more closely than I ever have. I must send 
for them, to be forwarded by sea around Cape Horn, and I 
may get them next March or April. ... As usual when 
I have moments of leisure, my mind runs upon the problems 
of life — of Nature, the One, the Infinite, and how the Many 
may consist with or come out of the One — what Wordsworth 
describes as 

* the burden and the mystery 
Of all this unintelligible world. * 

** The spirit which doubts the ultimately beneficial tendency 
of inqtiiry, which thinks that morality and religion will not 
bear the broadest daylight our intellects can throw on them, 
though it may clothe itself in robes of sanctity and use pious 
phrases, is the worst form of atheism; while he who believes, 
whatever else he may deny, that the true and the good are 
synonomous, bears in his soul the essential elements of 

During these weary weeks of waiting — not indeed for his 
books, for they cannot reach him in six months, but for the 
assembly of facts concerning the alleged corruption of govern- 
ment agents on which he must act — he betakes himself vigor- 
ously to his diary, criticising such books as he can get, copying 
favorite passages, recording his feelings and his thoughts 
concerning the known, but especially the unknown, and ar- 
guing with himself concerning the "pono" of various meta- 
physicians and philosophers. He even makes abstracts of 
entire books of whose contents, in whole or in part, he approves. 

386 Fifty Years in Camp and Field 

This number of his diary, two hundred and thirty-four neatly 
and compactly written pages, is mostly a record of his journey 
to California, and it ends with a chronicle of the reflection 
that he is misunderstood by his friends. 

** Ocean steamer Columbia, Aug. 20, 185 1, mid-day, on 
my way to Oregon. Left San Francisco an hour ago. This 
morning at five o'clock I heard an alarm bell ring. Thinking 
the hotel afire I looked out and asked a man what the matter 
was. 'Vigilance Committee,* he said, 'don't you see them 
going down street?' I then fancied I saw through the fog 
a procession going toward the wharf where they hung Stewart 
a few weeks ago. Knowing that they had captured two of 
his accomplices I supposed they were to be hung, though it 
seemed an odd hour. 

** ' I will go and see what is going on, * said I. 

*' 'You 'd better not,' said the man; 'there may be some 
shooting. ' 

" I drew on some clothes and started down the street and 
foimd a few people collected in front of the house occupied 
by the Vigilance Committee. I considered myself a mere 
spectator, and only walked about listening to whatever I 
might hear. I soon learned that the police, under the lead 
of the Governor, had rescued the two men from the guard 
of the Vigilance Committee, and that the committee inside 
were debating what to do. Some were in favor of tearing 
down the jail and hanging the two men at noon as previously 
voted. Two or three came out and made inflammatory 
speeches to the crowd, denouncing the authorities for * stealing' 
the prisoners at night, and appealing to the increasing multi- 
tude to defend the Vigilance Committee. Some huzzas were 
obtained, but the people did not seem enthusiastic. Some- 
thing was said about shedding 'the last drop of blood,' 
as usual on such occasions. At length I got tired of standing 
and returned to the hotel and dressed. I threw myself on the 
bed, but in a short time I was hunted up by a man with an 
official note from Governor McDougall, asking for 200 rifles or 
muskets 'for the defence of the majesty of law,' explaining 
that they were wanted to defend the county jail. 

"I knew very well that the two rogues deserved any fate 
that justly incensed people might inflict, and did not like the 

Vigilance Committee and an Appeal 387 

appeal; but I thought I was called on, under the circumstances, 
not to look behind the Governor's note, and I gave the order 
on the arsenal for the arms. I got breakfast and came on 
board where, about 11 o'clock, I was glad to hear that the 
Vigilance Committee had decided not to adopt violent meas- 
ures ; and, with this information, we put to sea. 

** Portland, Oregon, Aug. 15. Arrived last evening. . . . 
The town is new, only three or four years old, hastily built 
up of timber stuff, many of the buildings being brought 
by sea from New York.^ I met this morning a young lady 
who was one of our passengers from the East, and she bewailed 
the lack of society here, there being only one other young 
lady in town besides herself. . . . Astoria contains about a 
dozen small wood tenements clustered on the banks of the 
stream in the edge of a piece of (fir) woods. 

** Portland, Aug. 25. I must establish a post in Rogue 
River Valley. I can find nobody who has been over the 
country from Fort Oxford to the East ; I must therefore send 
out an exploring expedition. This is one of the official results 
of my coming here : one of the unofficial results is that I paid 
seventy-five cents to have my hair cut.'' 

While waiting here for orders to be carried out he has 
continual recourse to Spinoza, and finds great comfort therein. 
He obtains a fragment of what he seeks, and then he quotes 
Lucretius : 

" Who says that nothing can be known, o'erthrows 
His own opinion, for he nothing knows, 
So knows not that. What need of long dispute? 
These maxims kill themselves — themselves confute. " 

But he attacks the Ethics again as if he had never seen 
the book before or heard of Spinoza, and takes consolation 
in the reflection: *'He whose aim is the truth alone will be 
rewarded, if but with the knowledge that it is unattainable 
— which yet it cannot be if so be he can know it to be unat- 
tainable. . . . With Spinoza the postulates appear to be 

> Five years before, Daniel Webster had obiected to giving Oregon a 
territorial government, partly on the ground that it was "so far off that a 
delegate to Congress could not reach Washington till a year after the expira- 
tion of his term. " 

388 Fifty Years in Camp and Field 

in his definitions, which seem to be so many assumptions: 
these, however, he afterwards brings successively out amidst 
his demonstrations. I could wish to leave this subject, but 
it seems as if I could no more live without it than I could 
sustain my body without food.'* 

There follow twenty-seven closely written pages of reli- 
gious argumentation. Then the diarist visits the upper half 
of Oregon Territory, examines its productiveness, comments 
on its laws, and speculates concerning its future. At Van- 
couver (Aug. 29th) he is received with a double salute, one 
from the post and one from the Hudson Bay Company — ^" had 
no time to stop it.** Inspects the barracks and stores of am- 
munition. Visits, during the next three weeks, remote por- 
tions of Oregon Territory. 

** Saw some emigrants, just arrived. Four months coming 
from Lexington, Ky. A party of about a dozen men with 
wives and children, two children bom on the way and doing 
well — one three and the other four weeks old. Mothers 
proud of the feat. The party stopped only an hour for one 
of them and but a short time for the other. Indians gave 
them no trouble, but other parties recently have had trouble. 
One of them stole an Indian horse and was followed and had 
a woman and child killed. This, of course, will be reported as 
an Indian outrage. Back to the Cascades from the Dalles 
on Monday, Sept. 8, 1851, 12 m.; back to Vancouver, and 
tarried there three weeks before returning southward.** 



AT this point the diarist records, "I may resign at any 
moment," adding that he has never recovered the 
good health which he lost in Mexico, and doubtless 
feeling, as he has always felt, some repugnance for the drudg- 
ery of his profession and an ever increasing desire to devote 
the remainder of his life to serious study. But he does not 
carry out his thought, returning, instead, to his military 
head-quarters at Benicia — and to the scholiums of Spinoza, 
to Plotinus and lamblicus. "I can not," he says "get rid 
of the idea that Plato is tedious, — that the gist of what he 
has to say could have been put into one eighth of the space 
he uses — ^into one volume instead of five. " 

** Benicia, Cal., Oct. 4, 185 1. News comes that General 
Lopez 1 has been hung at Havana by the Spanish governor — 
result of his second expedition against Cuba. Newspapers 
represent that great excitement prevails in the States, and 
that large numbers are going and preparing to go to Cuba 
to revolutionize it. The motive of most of them must be to 
share in an adventurous life and realize results in Cuba, the 
leaders promising large estates in the William of Normandy 
style. If this movement could benefit the Union, as such, 
I should have little objection to it, but suppose Cuba revolu- 
tionized and applying for admission into our Union, what 
then? The negro question would come up, and a separation 
of the Union would be the almost inevitable consequence. 
And this I should regard as the greatest calamity possible, 

» Narciso Lopez was executed by garrote, Sept. ist. 


390 Fifty Years in Camp and Field 

almost, to the civilized world. It would tend to throw back 
progress in Europe indefinitely. *' 

At Benicia, Oct. 7th, General Hitchcock received the news 
of the death of his only brother, Samuel, who died of consump- 
tion on Aug. ist at sea, while returning from Europe where he 
had lived many years. Mr. Samuel Hitchcock was on his way 
from Holland to California to join his brother. For him he 
had translated several important works from the Latin and 
other languages, and in their views of the mysteries of life, 
the here and hereafter, the whence and whither, they were 
closely in sympathy. The survivor thus soliloquizes: 

'' He is lost to me, my dear and affectionate brother. And 
I am now the sole survivor of my father's family of five boys 
and three girls. Sam joined me on a portion of my tour 
through Europe. 

* * Benicia, Oct. 12. In the intervals of service I am engaged 
in copying my translation of Spinoza's Improvement of the 
Understanding and the Letters. The eastern mail arrives once 
in fifteen days. 

**Oct. 25. Last Monday sent to Fort Oxford three com- 
panies of dragoons under Lieut. -Col. Silas Casey, to operate 
against some hostile Indians, who lately murdered five Amer- 
icans. . . . For some days I have been reading Plato's 

*' Sonoma, Dec. 4, evening. Serious matters on hand. 
Day before yesterday rumors reached here of an outbreak 
of Indians in the southern part of this State reaching from 
San Diego clear to the Gila. To-day comes the first official 
notice. Lieutenant Murray reports from the Gila an attempt of 
Indians to get possession of the post. Lieutenant Sweeney was 
there with only ten men and a few citizens connected with a 
ferry. Lieutenant Murray arrived in haste from San Diego and 
ordered the Indians away. They refused to go till he levelled 
a howitzer at them. They then cut away the ferry and hung 
around in a hostile attitude. Near Los Angeles, too, a settler 
and an Indian or two have been killed. 

*'This looks serious. I am a commanding general without 
troops! — my adjutant-general in arrest, no aide de camp, and 
this evening's mail brings me a letter from the U. S. Quarter- 
master General, Jesup, complaining of the officers of his depart- 

A Commander without Troops 391 

ment in this division and saying that he may be obliged to 
refuse payment of their drafts and cease to send further fimds 
here! This is a pretty state of things! — and it is in no way 
under my control, except that I might appoint some inexper- 
ienced officer my a. d. c. In this whole division there are only 
about 350 men scattered at different posts from Mexico to 
Puget Sound! Leaving guards at posts, I could not assemble 
for this emergency over 1 50 or 200 men, and should be utterly 
without means for an expedition into the coimtry. Yet I 
have repeatedly asked for additional troops. 

'* Sunday, Dec. 7. On board Seahird returning to Benicia. 
Gave my testimony before court-martial yesterday; rode 
horse to Benicia (30 miles) and gave orders for two companies 
2d Infantry to be ready to embark at 10 a.m.; went to San 
Francisco in the evening and made arrangements for transport 
of troops to San Diego; signed the contract; saw Governor 
McDougall and explained to him my measures in full and ex- 
pressly left him to act independently with his militia, etc. 
Read the North British Review after going to bed. The peo- 
ple of San Diego seem very much alarmed, but Major S. P. 
Heintzelman, in command there, does not justify it. 

"Dec. 21. Feel like a fish out of water, having read all 
I have to read, and put military affairs in motion. Have 
three government vessels afloat with troops and supplies. 
Major Heintzelman reports his departure from San Diego with 
seventy or eighty men against some hostiles sixty or eighty 
miles distant. . . . What do writers mean by talking about 
the primitive conditions of life and * primitive times, ' when 
close by me here are natives who go naked throughout the 
year, winter and summer, the men not wearing moccasins 
or even a breech cloth, and the women using only the fig 
leaf or its substitute. 

"Benicia, Sunday, Dec. 21, 185 1. Have been to church 
to-day . . . Preachers with a tendency to liberality are 
much to be pitied. They are in a false position — * bound over* 
to preach certain traditions, which the rising knowledge of 
the day has undermined, while this tmdermining is partly 
known and partly suspected and feared. ... I deny 
that a belief in the immortality of the soul is essential to 
religion. Whether the soul is immortal or not is a question 

392 Fifty Years in Camp and Field 

of fact — that is, of philosophy — and a man may believe it or 
not and yet be a very sincere, earnest, upright man, a pious 
and religious man. I deny that Christianity affords us evi- 
dence of this immortahty beyond what we have independently 
of it." 

The diarist here returns with avidity to subjective philos- 
ophy, and the next twenty-eight pages of his diary are filled 
with earnest speculations concerning the unfathomable mys- 
teries of life; with the conclusions of an Oriental monarch, 
that mind and substance are one, that God and Nature are 
one, that free-will and necessity are one, that time and eternity 
are one; with quotations, demonstrations, syllogisms; with 
confirmatory extracts. He rehearses the elements of "imi- 
versal principles, " and adds: "it is a curious feeling to know 
that though immediately around me I find no response to 
these doctrines, yet I could have had an intelligible conversa- 
tion about them with Spinoza, Lord Bacon, Leibnitz, Plato, 
Zeno and others in distant ages and coimtries, and this is 
some relief from the otherwise solitude in which I find 

And so he goes on recording his meditations on this New 
Year's Day — many of his entries reverting to his own life 
and experience. Again and again he refers to the great 
Unknown, which sometimes he calls God, sometimes the 

"The existence of God is an eternal truth, but the notions 
of him which men draw from Nature are infinitely various, 
and so of course cannot all be true. Hence when men talk 
of God's goodness, mercy, anger, jealousy, and the like, they 
are not truly talking of God but only of certain experiences 
in Nature which they generalize or imiversalize, but which 
yet do not express the nature of God, any more than to say 
that he is hard or soft, bitter or sweet. For Nature and God 
are one." 

The average reader wonders how a man, engaged in the 
active business of the world, could show such devotion to 
ideas and give so much time to philosophy; and the philoso- 
pher himself anticipates the question on this New Year's Day : 

"If, now, I were asked of what use these speculative 
principles are, I might reply that to him who could ask such 

Corrupt Officers Reprimanded 393 

a question they perhaps are of no use whatever, as they could 
not make any part of his life; but, to those who conceive 
them as among the realities of existence and as being, indeed, 
among the only things absolutely true, they have an impor- 
tance immeasurably beyond all the fleeting things of the 
world, and enable us, in fact, to put a right value even on 
these. ... I refer to these philosophical principles often; 
but do not church members repeat their creed once or twice 
every week? And the repetition of the creed is merely a 
matter of form; but with me, when I note anything of God, 
of Substance, of Mode, of Eternity, I am really thinking of 
these things. 

** As the Bible was written by many men in different ages, 
there is not that unity in it that there is in the Koran, which 
was written by one man; and, for this very reason, the Bible 
will outlive the Koran, for the latter is adapted to but one 
stage of the human mind, while the Bible is adapted to many 
and diverse stages.*' 

It was while dreaming and meditating at Benicia, and 
incidentally governing the California-Oregon Military Division 
and attending to its multitudinous requirements, that General 
Hitchcock got hold of a remarkable booklet. The Story of 
Reynard the Fox, This allegory or fable he read as containing 
a pretty complete outline of the esoteric method by which 
the writers of the Middle Ages concealed the true meaning 
of their assaults on the Church. It impressed him much, and 
seemed to him a confirmation of the Rossetti theory of the 
metaphoric jargon under which Dante masked his religious 

In January General Hitchcock discovered certain trans- 
actions bearing close resemblance to speculations upon the 
government, — ^the covert use of public funds for the promo- 
tion of private interests. He sharply reprimanded the officers 
involved and called on them for an immediate explanation. 
About this time, too, a severe illness came upon him, which 
made him think, quite without alarm and with very little 
anxiety, that the end of his life was near. 

**I see returning signs of the old complaint. . . . Very 
well; I sometimes think I have seen the limit of what I 
can see in this world, as it is called, — for I believe in but 

394 Fifty Years in Camp and Field 

one world and I am now in eternity and am not * going into* 
it. . . . A skeptic is one who says that everything that 
occurs does actually occur within and not outside of Nature, 
but he by no means pretends to account for everything. 
Absolutely speaking, nothing can be accoimted for, because 
the true and absolute origin of things remains inscrutable." 

He has bought and borrowed a few books — among them 
Aristotle's Ethics^ which he studiously compares with Plato's 
and Spinoza's, not to its advantage. He spends all of Wash- 
ington's birthday in recording his impressions. These end as 
follows : 

"This mode of question and answer seems wonderfully 
silly and Plato is full of it. Of sixty pages that I have read, 
I am sure that six would contain the substance. 

** Later: Must give it up. I cannot read this dry work 
upon the nothingness of pleasure and pain. 'There never 
yet was philosopher who could endure the toothache patiently. ' 

**Benicia, Feb. 26. Five hundred recruits arrived to-day 
via Panama." 

As matters were in a threatening if not perilous condition 
on two of the frontiers of California, the commanding general 
must have done something with his reinforcements, but he 
did it quietly and without specific mention. He probably 
looked up from his Goethe, lamblicus, and Ardesius, his Hegel 
and Xenophon, long enough to send the soldiers where they 
were needed, with requisite orders for their employment, and 
then forthwith fell to study again. Indeed, his wide and 
assiduous reading was already bearing fruit, for he had 
begun systematically to write for publication in book form — 
of which more anon. 

"San Francisco, Apr. 18, 1852. My books have arrived 
— 30 boxes in all — cost. of carriage, $200. Am waiting to 
get them. . . . Have driven out to the Presidio, and list- 
ened with delight to the surf breaking on the rocks below, 
— ^relief from the everlasting talk about 'property,' 'water 
lots,' etc. Great God! What an affliction, to hear this eternal 
chatter about this man and that who has made so much money 
in such a time! The place is made odious to me by this 
commonplace talk about property, property, property! Such 
external matters ought to be disposed of in a short time and 

Indian Outrages 395 

laid aside. I would as soon listen to the clatter of a mill. 
I thought of Faust. Death! That all my usual thoughts 
should be broken in upon thus! 

''Benicia, Apr. 28th. Three companies of troops have 
arrived from San Diego, where they have been 'operating' 
for several months. I put Major Heintzelman in command 
there when I came and he has put an end to a combination 
of hostile tribes and restored peace to that part of the State. 
My official books and papers in the office keep a record of 
these things." 

During April and May he revels and luxuriates among 
his books once more — comments less, perhaps, and reads 
more. Makes or renews acquaintance with Tiberghien, Vico, 
Sallust, St alio, Oken, Krause, Tennemann, Porphyry. 

"Benicia, June 17. My last evening at this place. My 
books have gone ahead to San Francisco. In transferring 
head-quarters thither I have not consulted personal comfort 
or economy; but I have moved because it is the centre of 
the country. I am thinking seriously of resigning. 

"San Francisco, July 9. Figured in the Fourth of July 
procession (5th) by invitation of city authorities — a couple 
of elegant carriages furnished for myself and staff. Heard 
a tame and somewhat objectionable oration containing a 
tirade against the Chinese and a defence of Vigilance Com- 
mittee. Private dinner. Escaped without drinking even a 
glass of wine. 

"San Francisco, July 31. I called to see the Methodist 
minister to-day. Found there a man dressed like a gentle- 
man, who would be doubtless offended to be told he was 
none, who had the audacity to say that Providence designed 
the extermination of the Indians and that it would be a good 
thing to introduce the small-pox among them! He soon 
found himself alone in that savage sentiment, but it is the 
opinion of most white people living in the interior of the 

"One advantage I get is that my speculations diminish 
the force of the temporary, and, as this is in its nature transi- 
tory, I am less affected by its loss and not in a fever in pur- 
suing it. Standing, as it were, upon eternal ideas, the shows 
of things do not so much perplex me.*' 

39^ Fifty Years in Camp and Field 

Reports of "Indian outbreaks** and ** outrages by the 
savages" broke in upon the diarist's meditation. To meet 
contingencies threatened at the head waters of the San Joachim 
he was compelled to send (Aug. 5th) three companies of 
soldiers and two howitzers with precise instructions. Of the 
causes at work, he writes : 

"The wrong came, as usual, from white men. The In- 
dian commissioner last year made treaties with these Indians, 
and assigned them reservations of land as their own. The 
whites have not respected the proceedings of the commissioner, 
but have occupied the reservation to a considerable extent 
and established a ferry within the lands assigned to the Indians. 
To this the Indians seem to have objected, and one of them 
told the ferryman that he was on their land and he would 
have to go away, because his boat and apparatus stopped 
the salmon from ascending the river. This, it is said, was 
considered a hostile threat, and a party of whites was raised 
to go among the Indians and demand an explanation. As 
what had been said to the ferryman was said by only one or 
two and was not advised by the tribe, the latter was taken 
entirely by surprise by this armed party, and, knowing nothing 
of its object and becoming alarmed, some it is said were seen 
picking up their bows, and this was considered a sign of hostile 
intent and they were fired on and fifteen or twenty were killed! 
Some of the Indians belonging to the tribe were, at the 
moment their friends were fired on, at work on a white man's 
farm some miles distant, without the smallest suspicion of 
existing causes of hostility. 

"Affairs thereupon assumed a threatening aspect, and 
a great council has been appointed for Aug. 15th, at which 
all the surrounding tribes will assemble on King's River, to 
discuss the question of going to war with the whites. It is to 
overawe this coimcil that I have sent the troops to Fort Miller. 
It is a hard case for the troops to know the whites are in the 
wrong, and yet be compelled to punish the Indians if they 
attempt to defend themselves.** 



THE most of this summer of 1852 seems to be given by 
General Hitchcock to reading, criticism, and contempla- 
tion, at least as far as the diary is a guide. His manage- 
ment of the military division is outlined in his official reports 
and doubtless detailed in his official records, but the diary is 
devoted chiefly to considerations of the finite and infinite, of 
the one and many, of substance and modes, of the changeable 
and the permanent, of the transient and the eternal. 

During this year, news of the death of Clay and Webster 
reached San Francisco, and there were public processions 
in their honor. Of Webster the diarist says : 


** When he commented on foreign tyrannies, like that of Nicholas, 
he went back to first principles; but in discussing matters nearer 
home, like domestic slavery, he held it more important to sustain 
our institutions as a whole, including slavery, than, by siding with 
the abolitionists, endanger the peace of the country. If, some 
two years since, Webster had sided with the abolitionists, it might 
have decided the point and driven the Southerners into a declaration 
of 'separation,' and without benefiting the slaves, have brought 
about a destructive civil war." 

Another piece of news came (in December) that shocked 
General Hitchcock: the defeat of his old commander. General 
Scott, for the presidency, by General Pierce, one of Scott's 

The diarist soliloquizes : 


39^ Fifty Years in Camp and Field 

*' In this defeat, I presume General Scott has feh a deeper 
depression than he has ever before experienced in all his life. 
I would not undergo his feelings of disappointment at this 
defeat for all the honors of the world put together and all 
the wealth of the world added.'' 

*'San Francisco, Dec. 6. At breakfast this morning, 
having thought much of resigning from the army, it crossed 
my mind to seem to myself to have resigned; and there I sat, 
a plain citizen, without a dependence upon anybody or thing 
except great Nature. I have often tried to realize how I should 
feel as a private man. Certainly no one can value the exter- 
nals of a position less than I do. I am so far from priding 
myself upon place that to get rid of the feeling of it is one of 
the objects I hope to accomplish by resigning. How many 
thousands of my fellow-men look with envy upon my power 
and privileges, — as if I had no sense of my higher obligations 
to duty or Nature!" 

During these months of fall and winter the diarist constantly 
records his mental conceptions. Almost every day he philo- 
sophizes, inquires, soliloquizes, discusses with himself the 
contents of the books he is reading. From Plato and Cicero's 
Laws he makes elaborate quotations. The most of this 
philosophizing is necessarily omitted from this compilation. 
On Feb. 3, 1853, General Hitchcock sold to San Francisco the 
most of the library which he had ordered from New York at 
such heavy expense and in which he had taken such high 
satisfaction. It became the basis of the present Mercantile 
Library Association of that city and enriched it with a large 
number of works of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, 
which could not have been duplicated in America. 

''The most of them have performed their office as far as I 
am concerned. They are exceedingly valuable. There is, 
properly speaking, no 'light reading' in the modern sense, 
such as common novels, but generally books requiring thought 
and reflection in the reader. One of the inducements I have 
had to this step has been a desire to avoid the chance of be- 
coming what is called a bookworm. As far back as 1825, at 
West Point, I remember resolutely setting my face against 
reading books without an express object. I had a great 
horror of a certain species of idle dissipation — ^taking up a 

Reflections on Defeat of Scott 399 

book merely as a means of passing the time. I have read 
books only because I wished to know something. Pleasure, 
as such, has never been my object. The end, thus far, has 
been to put me into the most friendly relations with Plato, 
and I find that the more I know of him, the less I care to know 
about other writers. I have yet a great deal to learn in Plato, 
Still I have never thought of becoming a learned or a literary 

"Feb. 8, 1853. Ship John Gilpin has arrived. Brings me 
some more books. Also brings decision of the Secretary of 
War which will put a stop to holding up my pay in treasury. 
He says I am on duty as a Brigadier-General and orders me 
to be paid accordingly. He says : 

I do not hesitate to say that General Hitchcock's command, em- 
bracing as it does an entire division, including two military depart- 
ments, both the scenes of important military operations with the 
Indian tribes, and a great number of posts, many of them estab- 
lished by himself, is and has always been fully equal to that of 
a brigadier if not of a major-general, independently of the number 
of troops under his command. For this reason I have always 
considered that he was on duty according to his brevet rank, 
and supposed that he had been expressly assigned to duty accord- 
ing to that rank. He will be paid accordingly. 

C. M. Conrad, 
Secy, of Warr 

During the summer of 1853, General Hitchcock was im- 
mersed in philosophy. In the next volume of his diaries con- 
sisting of 224 compactly written pages, there is no entry 
concerning his military life. It is wholly a record of his intel- 
lectual and spiritual life. He tries to identify the great truths 
in Hindoo Hterature — ^the character of Vishnu and Siva, and the 
relative value of the Puranas and Tantras. He renews his en- 
deavor to define God, eternity, substance, the absolute, even 
resorting to triangles, circles, lines infinitely projected and other 
geometric signs in efforts to illustrate and demonstrate the 
scholiums. He considers the Om of the Hindoo seer and the 
Nirvana of the devotee. 

» A few years later he was writing and giving to the world books on the 
recondite themes he had studied. 

400 Fifty Years in Camp and Field 

*' God is all that he does, and all that he is. " 

** Aristotle is a natural philsopher: Plato is a divine 
philosopher. There is only a fanciful resemblance between 
them. The warmest admirer of Aristotle may have but a 
slender comprehension of Plato; while I think the Platonist 
circumscribes the Aristotelian, even when he has not studied 
Aristotle in detail, as the greater contains the less." 

"San Francisco, Oct. 9. Much as usual, when I have 
action in my life my notes cease. 

"About the middle of last month, I received an intimation 
that an expedition was on foot in this city to overthrow the 
Mexican authority in the state of Sonora, adjoining California 
on the south, and there to set up a revolutionary government. 
My orders from President Fillmore were peremptory to pre- 
vent any such enterprise from being carried out, by using my 
military force to the utmost of my power. 

"On Sept. 2 2d, I called the collector's attention to the 
rumor and requested him to cause a special watch to be had 
upon the vessels in the harbor preparing for sea. We had 
several conferences. On the 30th the collector addressed 
me a note pointing out the brig Arrow as being fitted up for 
a large number of passengers and as having arms on board. 
His men had seen suspicious parcels and packages apparently 
stowed away as if to hide them under the after cabin. 

"I put the case before the U. S. district attorney, whom 
my instructions required me to consult in case of doubt. 
He advised instant seizure, and I accordingly ordered Capt. 
E. D. Keyes, wii;h a party of soldiers from the Presidio, to 
seize the vessel and deliver her to the U. S. marshal. This 
was done at 10 p.m. that day. 

" Next day a writ of replevin was taken out, one William 
Walker claiming the right of possession of both vessel and 
cargo. The sheriff of the county thereupon demanded the 
vessel of the marshal, who, taking legal advice, answered 
that he had not possession and referred the sheriff to me. 
The marshal abandoned the vessel, but a sergeant on guard 
had wit enough to refer the sheriff to me. We had an 

" He wished to execute his orders and take the vessel by 
a posse if necessary. I shew him my orders from the Presi- 

William Walker, Filibuster 401 

dent, referred him to the law, and advised him to think well 
of the matter, assuring him that I would hold the vessel 
against the State's authority. He finally concluded to do 
nothing that evening, and said his term of office expired that 

**Next day (Sunday) there was much going to and fro, 
but I saw neither the old nor the new sheriff. 

"During Monday night Major Andrews, then in charge on 
the vessel, was privately informed that an attempt to take 
her out of his hands would be made on Tuesday morning by 
the men whom Walker had engaged for his expedition, where- 
upon he hauled her from the wharf and anchored her out in 
the stream. 

**0n that evening the collector came to my quarters and 
exhibited real or affected alarm about the state of things. 
He said he had suffered the greatest anxiety, etc., etc., and 
ended by advising me to give orders to my guard that, in 
case of attack, the vessel should be surrendered without 
opposition. I presume the secret managers of the expedition 
had created this alarm in the mind of the collector as far as 
it was real. I had seen him and U. S. Senator Gwin together, 
and had reason to suspect G win's fidelity to the government. 

"Seeing that my acquiescence in the collector's proposal 
would insure the attack, I peremptorily and with some show 
of real indignation refused assent. 

" I then went to the U. S. district attorney and foimd that 
he, too, as I believed, had been corrupted, probably by Senator 
Gwin. He also urged, with great affected alarm, that I should 
open the way for the seizure of the vessel by giving them to 
understand that no opposition would be made on my part. 
I was even more positive in my refusal to the district attorney 
than I had been to the collector. He intimated that he had 
protected me from the effects of public opinion for having 
seized the vessel, whereupon I struck my fist down, saying 
*Damn public opinion!' adding that I would under no cir- 
cumstances surrender the vessel, and that if any body of 
men tmdertook to get possession of her it would be at their 

"I had, in fact, lost all confidence in the officers of the 

United States, who, I believed, had been let into the secret 


402 Fifty Years in Camp and Field 

of the expedition after the arrest of the vessel. 'T is certain 
that their conduct was suddenly entirely changed. Nothing 
was done that night, and the next day I had the vessel libelled 
for a violation of the law of 1 818.1 

** I have been sued for $30,000 damages, and also required 
to answer for contempt of the State court, but shall have no 
great difficulty in justifying myself. Meantime the papers 
have all been noticing the event. Two of them, evidently 
in the interest of the expedition, are virulently abusing me 
for interfering with it. The Alia this morning has a handsome 
notice defending me. 

** Another thing: A Mr. Crabb,2 a member of the Legis- 
lature, has started an independent move on Sonora, and 
has asked a passport from me. I have declined to give it. 
Then Senator Gwin himself called and urged me to give the 
passport or 'safe conduct* to 'the Hon. Mr. Crabb,' saying 
'he could be useful to our government by dissipating pre- 
judices!' They are either fools or they think I am one. 
I kept my temper and declined to comply. A pretty things 
indeed, that I should be dragooned into giving such a pro- 
tection to a leading man of a hostile force against Sonora! — 
and at the solicitation of a senator of the United States! 
But they have not succeeded. As the matter now stands I 
am almost alone in this community in opposing the expedition. 

"San Francisco, Oct. 16. I have written to-day to Gen- 
eral Scott giving him some account of the seizure of the brig 
Arrow and my reasons for it, and I have expressed to him 
the opinion^ that the expedition to capture Sonora is counte- 

1 The San Francisco Times of October 3d said: "The brig Arrow has on 
board accommodations for 150 or 200; that she has been recently provided; 
that she has on board arms and ammunition, probably for such expedition 
as it will be proved has recently been set on foot in this State against the 
peace of Sonora in Mexico; that the right of possession of both vessel and 
cargo is claimed by William Walker; that a so-called 'government of Sonora ' 
has been formed here, and that William Walker has acted as 'governor' 
and that another person has signed as Secretary of State, and that an armed 
body of men has been engaged to descend upon Sonora. " 

2 This Mr. Crabb was subsequently killed in a filibustering expedition 
to capture Sonora. 

'This "opinion" of Gwin was quite correct. He served out his term 
in the Senate, but he kept his eye on Sonora where Crabb found his death 
and in 1863, matured a plan for colonizing Sonora with southerners. Louis 
Napoleon and Maximilian approved of the project and made Gwin "Duke 

Hitchcock Seizes Brig ''Arrow" 403 

nanced by most of the leading politicians here, including the 
two Senators in Congress — Gwin and Weller. Weller has 
in a speech at a public dinner abused the army for interfering 
with the expedition. I finally told General Scott that I had 
given mortal offence to all of this class of people and was now 
ready to be relieved if any senior officer desired to come here. 

"Oct. 17. Monday. I am likely to have a judgment 
against me in the State court for * contempt * in not delivering 
the Arrow to the county sheriff! I hear that he says it will 
do no harm to fine me $5, and that he will add that I followed 
my instructions. Monstrous! The judge is in the hands of 
the adventurers. I do not much care what he does, I know 
I am right, and that is enough for me. 

"p.m. It is rumored that a part of the expedition, with 
William Walker at the head, got off last night in a schooner. 
If true, this fully justifies my course. ... A morning 
paper announces that on Sunday night a small vessel, the 
schooner Caroline, was towed out of the harbor with about 
200 men on the Sonora expedition. . . . The vessel goes 
to sea with but a fragment of the original force organized by 
Walker — one out of the four companies — my action in the 
case of the Arrow having dispersed the remainder!" ^ 

Even in the midst of this trouble with the filibuster sen- 
ators and three United States civil officials forsworn, he fre- 
quently makes small excursions into the favorite field of 
philosophy, returns to Plato and Kant, and browses at the 
book-stalls. And about this time he comes again upon Cousin, 
the reviewer of philosophies. And as he reads he records in 
his diary, " All books are the chaff of the human intellect. " 

"Oct. 24. I have read some 150 pages of Cousin, and 
am strongly reminded of my original dislike of his mode of 
treating the subject. I find too much dogmatism or mere 

of Sonora. " He went through the south to Mexico, bearing a letter from 
the Emperor to Bazaine, but the chimerical project was a failure and Gwin 
fied from Sonora and the country. 

» In the diary for 1866, is recorded: "I was right in stopping the ex- 
pedition for Sonora. My interference really frustrated Walker, who wais 
unable to do anything with his fragment of the original party and the 
schooner. He made a foolish attempt to take possession of Lower Cali- 
fornia, but was finally abandoned by most of his men and returned to San 
Francisco. Subsequently he went on a filibustering expedition to Nicaragua 
and was caught and garroted. " 

404 Fifty Years in Camp and Field 

asseveration — too much of the air of one who should say, 
* Behold how clear this is — ^this which heretofore has been 
so obscurely seen by the world!' He says, indeed, that it 
is not he that speaks, but philosophy. But this is the most 
arrogant of all declarations — a sort of thus-saith-the-Lord 
phraseology. ... 

"I have to-day given away my land- warrant for i6b 
acres of land to my cousin. I have felt some disposition 
to locate this land in my own name and retain it, as it is for 
service in the field (in the Mexican War) ; but as it was in a 
detestable war, I have concluded to put it out of my hands. 

"Oct. 29. . . . Hope and fear find their chief resting- 
places with those who are wanting in a reliance upon the 
order of events in this world. Mere faith in this order imder 
what is called Providence does a great deal: knowledge of it 
must do a great deal more. But it is extremely difficult to 
pick up this sort of knowledge — such as a knowledge of astron- 
omy which overcomes the power of superstition with regard 
to eclipses. This becomes faith in God and a knowledge of 
his providence. All wisdom and happiness seem to centre 

*' In the absence of this knowledge (and I do not pretend 
to it) , I try, when I am about to do anything of importance, 
to put myself in such a frame of mind as to say to myself, 
*I can never undo this, and must therefore so do it that I 
shall not wish it imdone.' I can scarcely say that I have 
any other view of life. ... As to hope and fear, I think 
I have very little of either and could be well content to have 

**San Francisco, Oct. 30. . . . Emerson's Essays seem 
to me a series of self -examinations. The thoughts are 
littered mostly in proverbs, but many of them need explana- 
tions except to readers of Plato, Swedenborg, and Tom 
Paine. ... A distinct consciousness of the love of fame has 
never crossed my mind, but in reading Emerson I have been 
led to think of being myself, I must of necessity fall into 
oblivion, and the thought gives me something like a pang 
such as I do not remember ever before experiencing. Emer- 
son over-saw multitudes of people. 

"Dec. 13. — There is but one universe which contains, or 

Ready to be Relieved 405 

is, the totality of causes and likewise the totality of effects. 
These two are one — only not regarding things in time, as 
prior and subsequent. The same thing is relatively a cause 
in one case and an effect in another, but, absolutely, one. 
Things are regarded as causes when, in fact, they are only 

**Dec. 16. The mail to-day brings a letter of approval 
of my work from the new Secretary of War. Previous order 
confirmed. I am specially designated to command the Depart- 
ment of the Pacific according to my brevet rank — certainly 
complimentary, considering that there are many officers 
of the army who rank me and yet are without department 
commands. ... I have applied for leave of absence to go 
to the East, by way of China, India, etc.** 



IN December and January the diarist wrote a hundred pages 
of metaphysical speculation, ending by reasserting the 
conclusion that God and Nature are the same thing — • 
in their (or its) essence unchangeable. Then came important 
news from the East : 

*' San Francisco,, Feb. 2, 1854. Steamer arrived to-day. 
Brings 1 40 men for the dragoons, and news that General Wool 
is coming to relieve me here. The order was issued by the 
Secretary of War (Jefferson Davis) without consultation with 
General Scott and unknown to him. What will they do with 
me? Mr. Davis is hostile to General Scott and to me as Gen- 
eral Scott's friend. While I have endeavored to do everything 
necessary in my position as an army officer, I have had no 
feeling of pride of position — ^none whatever. I have indus- 
triously sought to avoid observation, which most men seek 
to attract. My thoughts and feelings look inward — not 
from any pride of intellect or hope of fame, but simply in 
the hope of understanding something of this marvellous Exis- 
tence in which I find myself — ^not at San Francisco in command 
of the Pacific Department, or in the United States, but in 
the universe of Nature. The outward 'shows of things* I 
do not despise, but they do not attract me. I see they are 

"Feb. 4. The mail is distributed. Have a letter from a 
staff officer of General Scott giving me the General's endorse- 
ment on my application for permission to go to China, etc. 
The approval of the Secretary of War, Jefferson Davis, is 


General Wool Supersedes Hitchcock 407 

necessary. General Scott approves of my application (as ' Gen. 
Wool is coming' here) and recommends my application, giving 
as his reason that my regiment, the 2d Infantry, is to be 
recruited under the superintendence of the lieutenant -colonel, 
and therefore I can be spared for the length of time required 
for the journey. General Wool's coming here may have in 
view the annexation of the Sandwich Islands; he may bring 
verbal reasons for sending me to take possession of them. " 

The diarist does not spend these weeks in recording con- 
jectures about General Wool's mission or the fate of Hawaii, 
but he lives evermore with his books, and in a single day 
chronicles forty pages of philosophical soliloquy about the 
limits of knowledge, the nature of the soul, the defini- 
tion of the Absolute, existence, wisdom, necessity, eternity, 
ubiquity, etc. 

''There is something permanent in all men everywhere 
the same. If it be called soul, I have no objection; only 
let us keep to what we know of it and not fly off upon imagi- 
nation and dream of its actual condition in the future beyond 
what we know. . . . The love of God, in popular language, 
is a vague, uncertain feeling, and mostly imaginative, but 
a love of the Permanent, when truly conceived, seems the 
permanent in man. This love ought to draw man towards 
the Permanent and wean him from the Transient. 

*'San Francisco, Feb. 16, 1854. Just after I had retired 
last evening, Capt. Tecumseh Sherman called and told me of 
the sad calamity of the loss of the San Francisco with Colo- 
nel Washington and 150 of our troops, and the arrival here of 
General Wool to supersede me. I called on him officially this 
morning and presented my staff — Major Townsend, Major 
Eaton, Major Cross, Major Lamard,i Major Smith, Surgeon 

» On March 27, 1854, Major Lamard was drowned in Puget Sound. 
General Hitchcock wrote a notice of his friend which reflected his own 
character when he said: "Major Lamard never knew the burden of ennui. 
Engaged in the discharge of his duties he was prompt, active and efficient, 
leaving nothing for his superiors to desire, but the moment his duties left 
him leisure, he busied himself with literature, with art and with philosophy. 
With a competent knowledge of the ancient classical languages and of French 
and German, he added to the most extensive literary acquirements a pro- 
found insight into the various problems of religion, philosophy and govern- 
ment, which no scholar can evade without surrendering his convictions to 
blind authority. " 

4o8 Fifty Years in Camp and Field 

Tripler and Lieutenant Gardner, all in full uniform. He indi- 
cated his purpose of assuming command to-morrow, and he 
has since been to my office, where I explained the distribution 
of troops, etc. The mail brought an order for me to repair 
to the head -quarters of the army at New York. My appli- 
cation for permission to return east via China, India, Persia, 
etc., made last November and approved by the General com- 
manding, was not assented to by the Secretary of War, Col. 
Jefferson Davis. 

"Why this request was refused I do not know. General 
Scott recommended it, and even stated in his endorsement 
on my application that my regiment was being recruited 
anew and that there was no service for me and would be none 
for the time required. I must put up with the decision, though 
I see no reason for it. In my own opinion officers of the army 
who can be spared and are willing to travel ought to be allowed 
to do so. It can never do harm and may do good. But 
civilians in office are sometimes narrow-minded. The War 
Department, unfortunately, is always administered by a poli- 
tician selected from civil life with a view to politics, and 
without regard to either military or general knowledge. 

"San F. Feb. 17. General Wool has issued this day his 
first order as in command of the Department of the Pacific. 
I may tarry here some weeks to settle my private business. 
I am now not in command, and not on duty — ^and I really 
feel relieved, in an agreeable sense. . . . Have been 
employed in burning old letters and memoranda — an exceed- 
ingly impleasant task. Is it I myself? Am I the same 
person I was in 1844? — or 1824? It seems very strange. 

"Feb. 24. On looking over these papers one fact gives 
me a melancholy gratification: notwithstanding the evi- 
dence of weakness in some respects, I do not absolutely 
condemn myself as having deliberately done a wrong thing. 
. . . My person, I suppose, has been tolerably good — 
my position respectable — my reputation fair ; and I am sup- 
posed to be something of a student, while my manner is 
really and unaffectedly kind, especially to women, who seem 
naturally to confide in me. . . . In no case whatever 
have I ever begun or continued a course of conduct with 
an objectionable design. 

Davis Arbitrarily Refuses Consent 409 

*'Feb. 26. . . . I find that my excellent and talented 
brother, Samuel, had copied in Latin two or three parts of 
the Ethics of Spinoza. His translation of these into English 
I consider faiiltless. I have twice copied it with my own 
hands. He was well qualified for the work of translation 
and adhered to the text with religious care.'* 

The leisure which the arrival of General Wool gave the dia- 
rist had its usual effect: it turned his thoughts and pencil 
to philosophical speculation. In a week he writes fifty pages 
about what he calls the foundation of things, or existence, 
or sub'Stans, which he finds to include the noumenon and 
phenomenon, seen and imseen, cause and effect, pleasure 
and pain, good and evil, wisdom and folly, excess and defi- 
ciency, eternity and time, and he finds them all included in 
Nature, whose other name is God, or Pan, "or, as Plato called 
it, the Whole.*' He now thinks of publishing a work on 
metaphysics, but the more he contemplates it the less inclined 
he seems. 

"When a man sees the errors of the world he cannot repeat 
them, if conscientious, and may pass a life in search of the 
truth without feeling at liberty to publish anything. He 
would never repeat such discourse, and might hold his breath 
in very terror at the thought of his preposterous presumption. 

"I have been reading once more the commentary upon the 
Golden Verses of HierocUs, and am half disposed to put as 
high a value upon it as upon any book in my collection, 
saving Plato and Spinoza — ^which enable me to put a meaning 
upon much that is in Hierocles himself — ^and excepting also 
Shakespeare and the Christian records. Hierocles was a 
great man — far superior to Antoninus, whose Meditations 
I also value. Of all ancient philosophers I put P5rthagoras 
first, for Plato would never have been but for Pythagoras, 
as Cicero would never have been but for Plato." 



ON April 15, 1854, General Hitchcock left San Francisco 
for New York, via Panama. 

**Left the Golden Gate at 4 p.m. The officers 
late of my staff proposed to escort me to the boat in full 
uniform ; but I desired them not to do so, thanking them for 
their kindness, and they came on board in a body in undress 
uniform and very kindly took leave. Left all my business 
affairs in California in the hands of Capt. W. T. Sherman.* 
As we passed out, the Presidio gave me a 13-gun salute and 
I am content to be regretted by manly and intelligent men, 
as I know I am. . . . 

*'New York, May 9, 1854. Arrived at the dock at mid- 
night, twenty-three days from San Francisco — a. remarkably 
short passage. . . . Have been received in the most cor- 
dial manner by General Scott. After asking my preferences 
he has given me an order putting me on duty in the city in 
command of my regiment. I am to superintend recruiting. 

"New York, May 28. . . . Our government seems dis- 
posed to take advantage of the great Eastern war at present 
occupying both England and France in the Black Sea, to 

» Captain Sherman had resigned from the army six months before and 
had become a partner in a successful business firm in San Francisco during 
these "boom days," believing that there would be " little chance for much 
success in the army, " and not dreaming that he would live to eclipse Xen- 
ophon's memorable march to the sea. During the next few years he and 
General Hitchcock exchanged hundreds of letters. 


Hitchcock Contemplates Resigning 411 

make a quarrel with Spain, really for the purpose of seizing 
the island of Cuba. I have not the smallest sympathy with 
the movement. I think that republican principles would 
be injured by the annexation of Cuba to the United States. 

"I have been seriously thinking of resigning from the 
army. ... I consider the slavery in our country an ele- 
ment guided by passion, rather than by reason, and its 
existence among us is shaking the whole fabric of our govern- 
ment. Abolitionists would abolish the institution of slavery 
as the real evil, whereas the real evil is the want of intelligence 
from which slavery itself took its rise. Men in a passion, as 
Plato says, are already slaves. 

"As to leaving the army: I may do so if I choose at this 
time and no one notice me, for I am imknown except to a 
few friends. If I wait and a war with Spain be forced on 
us by the headlong ambition or false policy of the Cabinet 
at Washington it might be hazardous to retire, even though 
in principle opposed to the war, not only as unjustifiable 
towards Spain but as impolitic and injurious as respects 
ourselves. I do verily believe that such a war would be a 
downward instead of an onward step for our republican 
institutions, and might easily justify my own conscience in 
refusing to be an instrument in the unjust campaign. 

"I might draw a line between my duty to remain in the 
army to repulse any attempt made from abroad upon us, 
and the questionable duty of going beyond our borders to 
inflict a direct wrong upon another people, with probable 
injury to us in the end. I had this point in consideration 
on entering into the Mexican War, the grievous wrong of 
which was perfectly apparent to me, but I did not resign. 
My principles were not then so clear to me as they have since 
become, and it would have been more difficult to act freely 
then than now — in case, I mean, of a war with Spain mani- 
festly for the acquisition of Cuba. 

"Besides, I am now less fitted for an arduous campaign. 
I have, in fact, a serious disability incurred I believe in the 
Mexican War, as a result of my sickness at Corpus Christi, 
where, for three months, I took large doses of quinine three 
times a day, which, I shall always believe was the proximate 
cause of a derangement of my nerves resulting in pains which 

412 Fifty Years in Camp and Field 

first took me to the Arkansas springs and subsequently to 
Wiesbaden, and which have compelled me to have constantly 
on hand a galvanic battery and to use it as required for my 

**New York, May 31. I am in doubt as to leaving the 
army, wishing to do so, but imcertain as to the result. I do 
not wish to be moved by the slightest disposition to avoid 
service and responsibility. One point of weight with me is 
my personal opinions, after reading Plato, as I have, and 
finding myself more than ever a cosmopolite. The truth is, 
I am not sufficiently devoted to my profession, or even to my 
government, to make service a pleasure. I consider war an 
evil, whether necessary or not. It indicates a state of com- 
parative barbarism in the nation engaged in it. I am also 
doubtful as to governments, and feel disposed to think that 
with my views I ought to live under what Plato, in the States- 
man, speaks of as the 7th government. The question re- 
mains whether I can pass from a practical to a theoretical 
life, and whether, being a member of society, I am not bound 
to act with it. If I resign I wish to do so in such a frame 
of mind as to have no after regrets. This, in fact, is the prin- 
ciple which I wish to have guide me in whatever I do, for 
my eternity is here and now. ** 

The slight service of superintending recruiting for his 
2d regiment is not found exacting by General Hitchcock and 
he frequents the Nassau Street bookstores in June and finds 
therein tomes that greatly excite his interest and even lead his 
thoughts into new channels. Of these he gives us a hundred 
pages of comment and reflection. He does not forget Comte 
and Cousin, Spinoza, Kant, Porphyry, and the great neo-Pla- 
tonists ; but he finds there another class of books of which he 
has before seen little and these move him strangely. He finds 
several antique alchemical works on magic — works more than 
two centuries old, and not much in request in this bustling 
land of industrial progress. 

"In any view Demiurgus, and no less the modem God, 
is an imaginary figment drawn into a seeming existence by 
the mere demands of the human imagination seeking a ground 
of conception as to how the thing is done. As Plato says, this 
is a ' not very clever evasion ' to supply a defect of knowledge. 

Superintends Recruiting in New York 4^3 

"These," he says, "are all very old worm-eaten little 
volumes, much soiled and worn." He thinks that he has 
come upon a valuable revelation of the antique mind; that 
heretics in those remote ages could not speak plainly about 
the Church without personal danger and therefore they spoke 
in symbols; that ''all true alchymists pursued not gold but 
wisdom," for wisdom was the only true wealth; that when 
they spoke of turning base metals to gold they only meant 
to allude to transforming base thoughts and spiritual error 
into genuine knowledge; that they were compelled by hostile 
environments to express themselves in parables and simili- 
tudes. He thinks that if these alchemical works are to be 
read in a figurative sense they contain great and important 
truths, whereas, if they are to be taken literally they are 
** utter foolishness." He earnestly denies that he is an athe- 
ist, because we must believe in Nature, and Nature and God 
are one. 

" I do not deny God, but I do emphatically discard men*s 
imaginations about him, since, properly speaking, as the old 
Hebrews said, we can form no image of him. 

The universe is all in all, and it makes no difference whether 
we call it God or Nature. This, if anything, is what the 
alchymists considered their 'secret.' It is an interesting 
point of view, showing that in ages past there was a class of 
men, not very numerous, indeed, and widely scattered, who 
were not affected by the common theological or even meta- 
physical disputes. There were men, as I have often sus- 
pected, who stood equally above Martin Luther and the 
Pope, and who saw that the true view did not depend upon 
the decision of the question at issue between them. 

"Carlisle, Pa., July 13. Am ordered here by the Secre- 
tary of War to assume command of the barracks, where my 
regiment (six companies of it) is to be assembled." 

This is the only allusion he makes in the diary for six 
weeks as to his professional duties at his new post; and one 
must read between the lines very assiduously to get the 
narrative (which he evidently regards as not worth recording) 
of drills, manoeuvres, parades, instructions, penalties for 
disobedience and the slow progress of recruiting. 

He makes frequent visits to Philadelphia and adds to 

414 Fifty Years in Camp and Field 

his alchemical collection. He buys Dante's Vita Nuova 
in French and becomes ** perfectly certain" that Beatrice 
is no woman at all, but only a vision of Truth. The death 
of the lady does only signify that truth in this life can be but 
imperfectly attained. 

"July 28. To speak of God as the King of Heaven, or 
a Being exercising an arbitrary will, is perfectly absurd. 
All men say that God is immutable, yet they talk as if he 
had ends and purposes, plans and means of accomplishing 
them ; and they do not see that this supposes something above 
their God as an eternal principle which God must follow to 
remain immutable. We cannot say that God is great or lit- 
tle, good or bad, wise or foolish, but only that he is. Plainly 
God is beyond being influenced by us — that is, by our wishes 
or speculations. We cannot serve him but by serving human- 
ity ; we cannot move him but by moving humanity ; we can- 
not please him but by pleasing humanity; we cannot offend 
him but by offending humanity. '* 

The diarist says that, although he possesses five manu- 
script copies of Spinoza's Ethics in English from the trans- 
lation made by his brother Samuel, besides copies in French, 
German, and Latin, he still feels ''a want," whereupon he 
begins another, the third he has made with his own hand, 
and copies "the whole work, extending to over 880 pages 
of large-size note paper — ^no small job." 

Suddenly, in the early spring of 1855, there came an order 
transferring him to other scenes: "the most fatal order that 
has ever been issued in any way affecting me," he writes. 
It organizes an expedition into the Sioux coimtry about 
Fort Laramie and appoints to its command a man whom 
he regards as both ignorant and brutal, "the man whom I 
hold in least respect of all men in the army," he records in 
his diary. What shall he do? "I have intimated to General 
Scott my wish for a leave of absence for three months, and his 
aid, Colonel Scott, writes me that 'the General does not con- 
sider it at all important that you should be with your regi- 
ment at the new post to be established, and he will not fail 
to grant you a leave of absence upon your application after 
you reach St. Louis.' " 

General Hitchcock thinks that perhaps he can escape from 

A Temporary Respite 415 

the expedition through a prolonged leave of absence, and 
makes an effort to obtain it. 

"April 29. . . . The prosecution of my studies ought to 
be carried on in a sort of serious silence. I must expect 
no sympathy or coimtenance from without, and no reward 
of any sort except such as may grow internally from the 
possession of the Truth. But there is no higher satisfaction 
than in thus living. It is free from enthusiasm, and being 
a present possession it is not dependent on hope, while it 
is free from fear no less. The hermetic philosophers are 
the true philosophers. They are a solemn class of writers, 
for a glimpse of a true eternity abolishes all selfishness 
and fills the soul with an amiable tenderness towards man- 

''April 30. The Colonel has been my guest here for a 
month. Passing whole evenings in his company I have often 
spoken of my hobby, avoiding it, however, as much as civility 
required, and have been struck with the entire blank in his 
mind upon the whole subject of man, his origin and destiny. 
I have two large cases of books extending from floor to ceiling 
written by earnest and learned men in ages past concerning 
the nature he carries about with him wherever he goes, and 
he is dead to their influence! This may show me how little 
sympathy I may look for from what is called Hhe world' 
in my alchemical studies. So be it!" 

Thus reconciled to solitary pursuits he goes on examining 
London catalogues of quaint tomes, buying books to explain 
his existing library, and reading, thinking, and writing. Every 
few weeks is the entry, "Received to-day another box of 
books from London" — ^with sometimes a list of the additions. 
And always, from the annoyances of camp life and^the irri- 
tations of the service, he turns to the hermetic pages for 

"St. Lotiis, Mo., June 25. It is high time that I should 
note that I have been here since the 6th instant. I left 
Carlisle Barracks on the 3d with head-quarters and four 
companies of the 2d Infantry, came on here, and my leave 
of absence took effect — for four months. I am again at my 
old home. . . . 

"St. Louis, Aug. 3. To-day sent a power of attorney 

4i6 Fifty Years in Camp and Field 

to Ethan A. Allen, of New York City, to enable him to 
recover the 'land' voted by Congress to our grandfather, 
Col. Ethan Allen, of Ticonderoga, for services before the 
Declaration of Independence was written." 



MEANTIME General Hitchcock*s leave of absence rap- 
idly approached its termination. His request for its 
extension had been granted by General Scott, but was 
refused by the Secretary of War in a very offensive manner. 
The President of the United States, who had defeated Gen- 
eral Scott before the people, had not been rendered amicable 
by his triumph, and for two years had done much to harass 
the victor of Mexico and to annoy all of his friends. Indeed, 
it was notorious that President Pierce had called Jefferson 
Davis to be Secretary of War partly because of the violent 
hostility of that gentleman to Scott and his champions. ^ Gen- 
eral Hitchcock had been conspicuous as one of these, not only 
during the Mexican War, but ever since. The time now came 
when he could be curtly '* turned down,'* i.e., when his re- 
quest that he should not be ordered to serve under a man 
whom he despised might be disregarded and his application 
for further leave of absence refused. 

General Scott had extended General Hitchcock's leave of 
absence for three months more. The Secretary of War, Davis, 
held it up and immediately wrote to General Scott, demand- 
ing his reasons for such an act of favoritism, and coimter- 
manded the General's order. 

« Extract from the diary of 1867: "It was this hostility that was the 
cause of Secretary Davis's rude and unwarrantable interference with the 
legitimate use of the power belonging by army regulations to General Scott, 
who had given me a leave of absence. This was the immediate cause of 
my resignation in 1855." 

*7 417 

4i8 Fifty Years in Camp and Field 

General Scott replied that he had granted the leave of ab- 
sence because he had the right to do it, and was convinced of 
its propriety, that he was not responsible to the Secretary of 
War for his action in such cases, and that he would be obliged 
to him if hereafter, in any official communications he might 
have occasion to address him, he would write in the name of 
the President of the United States, the only official superior 
whom he (Scott) recognized. 

Secretary Davis in reply entered into a very elaborate 
and detailed exposition of all the alleged breaches of order 
and violations of propriety committed by General Scott 
during his whole military career. 

At this point General Hitchcock felt that it was time for 
him to interpose to save General Scott to the army. This 
he could do only by resigning. He did not hesitate. 

" St. Louis, Oct. 6, 1855. I have prepared a letter, now on 
the table before me, addressed to Colonel Thomas, Asst. Adj.- 
General to General Scott, tendering the resignation of my 
commission in the army. My leave of absence terminates to- 
day, and I have thought for several years that if circumstances 

should compel me to serve under 's orders, I would resign. 

It has now happened. I have been placed under the orders 
of a man for whom I have not the smallest respect — a, man 
without education, intelligence, or humanity. I have not 
acted hastily. I have not resigned in a passion. I am not 
under the influence of anger or pique, nor do I feel a sense 
of mortification because an unworthy man has been set over 
me. Least of all do I suppose that I shall be missed from 
the army, or that my country will notice my withdrawal 
to private life. I know how little a great nation depends 
upon any mere individual, and how still less upon so humble 
a person as myself. I am content to be unnoticed. If I 
could really do some great and glorious good I should be 
willing to take the reputation of it, but I have not the smallest 
desire for mere notoriety. It is a rare thing in our service 
for a full colonel (brevet brigadier-general) to resign, and 
thereby relinquish all contingent advantages, but I volun- 
tarily surrender them all rather than to place myself under 
orders of such a man as I know to be. '* 

Shortly after these words were written a messenger came 

Hitchcock Promptly Resigns 419 

galloping across the prairies towards St. Louis telling the 
story that our soldiers, under 's command, had perpe- 
trated the bloody butchery of Ash Hollow, in which, after a 
treacherous parley, and while they were negotiating terms 
of peace, they fell upon the Brules and exterminated the 
tribe. The New York Tribune characterized it as *'a trans- 
action as shameful, detestable, and cruel as anywhere sullies 
our annals, " and the St. Louis News said that the commander 
"divested himself of the attributes of civilized humanity 
and turned himself into a treacherous demon, remorseless and 
bloodthirsty." When he read the horrible narrative Gen- 
eral Hitchcock congratulated himself anew on having sent 
his resignation. 

In due time came announcement that the resignation of 
his commission had been accepted by the President and 
Secretary of War — ^no doubt gladly. His regimental officers 
assembled and gave him a warm good-bye, expressing in 
writing their ** regret at losing so valuable an officer," and 

"His uniform gentlemanly bearing and his high military char- 
acter, combined with his unvarying kindness, consideration, and 
urbanity as an officer, have alike claimed our respect and endeared 
him to all our hearts. It is with sincere regret that we part with 
him, and we can only express our warmest wishes that the remain- 
der of his life may be passed in the quiet enjoyment of the honor 
and respect which he has so justly won from all with whom he 
has come in contact. " 

The St. Louis Democrat said: 

*' There is not a single officer in the army more nobly charac- 
terized by steady, soldier-like resolution, gentlemanly bearing, 
unimpeached and unimpeachable integrity, and thorough fitness 
for any duty devolved upon him. To his qualities as an officer he 
has added high attainments as a scholar, and thorough devotion 
to high and correct principles as a man in private as well as in 
public life. Such men we wish might remain in the army. " 

The Springfield Republican said: 

"Gen. Ethan Allen Hitchcock had too much spirit to brook so 
manifest an indignity offered to himself and his commander-in- 
chief, and threw up his commission in disgust. No doubt the 

420 Fifty Years in Camp and Field 

President was instructed by his Secretary to accept the resigna- 
tion of an officer whom the latter had so wantonly insulted. It 
was accepted accordingly. " 

The National Intelligencer said that a man who had been 
brevetted a brigadier-general, for gallant and distinguished 
services in the storming of Molino del Rey could afford to 
be driven from the army '* by a man who had fainted on the 
field." To this General Hitchcock replied that he regretted 
to see politics introduced and did not relish "being compli- 
mented at the expense of another. " 

Devout pantheism is a reflection of much of the dia- 
rist's meditations during all these years, and he frequently 
breaks in with a protest that instead of abandoning such 
views he becomes ever more and more certain of their truth. 
He even expresses gratitude to Nature and his environments 
that he has been saved from popular follies of dogma to 
"*' the foimdation of things " in the imity of Existence. Weeks 
and months go by without the least comment on his aban- 
donment of his life-long profession. At least, at the year's 
end he closes the book with this brief page of reminiscence, 
and if he felt exultation or even complacency at the record 
there is not the least sign of it : 

" I must say, for myself, that I have never exercised power 
simply in virtue of my commission, but have always felt 
that I was at liberty to use it only in conformity with the 
* higher law' of justice. No soldier has ever had cause to 
complain of me, so far as I know or believe. ^ Indeed, I have 
felt the high obligation of justice so strongly that it has 
long been my opinion that the possession of power is a curse 
to him who does not know this obligation and obey it." 

When it is remembered that being placed in arbitrary 
command over human beings has an invariable tendency to 
breed a tyrannical spirit, and that this tendency is stronger 
in the army than anywhere else, because the command is 
absolute, the whole significance of this soliloquy becomes 
apparent. How many officers have ever been able to repeat 
it? However immersed in metaphysical speculation this 
student may have been, the ability to calmly utter such a 

» Often Hitchcock speaks of his soldiers as "our people." 

Comments and Reflections 421 

remarkable declaration to himself must have caused him to 
hail the new year, 1856, with an inward sense of satisfaction. 

The next book (200 pages of diary, running from January 
to the middle of March) he begins with the following inscrip- 
tion on the fly-leaf: "Mostly mere speculations. I am an 
inquirer. E. A. H. ** Then he plunges anew into his books — 
of the alchemical books alone he has again accumulated a 
goodly library, some very rare and expensive. He regards 
them as important enigmas. And once more he thinks 
aloud and looks at monism from various points of view, 
adding : 

'*I see no reason why I should not set down my thoughts 
as I go along, even though I repeat them as often as a creed 
is repeated in most churches, that is, once or twice or thrice 
a week." 

Long before this time he has come to the firm conclusion 
not only that the pretences of the alchemists were symbolical 
and a method of hiding their real meaning in commonplace 
phraseology, but that their ulterior purpose was religious, 
and that they dealt in "the dietetics of the soul. " 

And week by week he buys new and strange books and 
reads and ponders them and fills them with marginal pencil- 
ings: Nosce te Ipsum, an ancient poem on the immortality 
of the soul; Agrippa's Vanity of the Sciences; Philalethe; 
the writings of Ocellus Lucanus ; Mirum in Modum; a Glimpse 
of God's Glorie and the Soules Shape, — "this cost $25 — a high 

And ever he reverts to the old favorites — ^to "Spinoza, 
the reputed atheist," to Toland, to Socrates, to Van Helmont, 
to Hobbes, to Paracelsus, to Leibnitz, to the Vishnu Purana, 
to the Bhagavat Geeta. He reads Metamorphosis, or the Golden 
Ass of Apuleius, founded on the Eleusinian Mysteries, and 
corresponding to the notions of the hermetic philosophy. 

Some of the meditations and conclusions of these months 
when, as he says, he is "on permanent leave of absence," 
it may be well to take the space to quote here: 

"Most people consider disobedience to God literally pos- 
sible, and attribute it to a misdirected free-will in man, but 
I dissent from this view altogether. There can be no such 
thing as actual disobedience of God, for this would defeat 

42 2 Fifty Years in Camp and Field 

omnipotence and destroy the immutability of God. . . . God 
is Nature: Nature is God." 

** Matter can not be conceived of as created — ^that is, 
can not be supposed as beginning to exist from nothing at 
any certain time. The notion of the creation of the world 
out of nothing, say, 6000 years ago, seems the most absurd 
fancy. The world, as it exists in God, was never created, and 
as it manifests the tmseen it is a generated phenomenon — • 
was not generated six thousand or six million years ago, but 
is being generated now while I write. The world, in a certain 
sense may be said to be forever becoming in the forever existing—' 
the two being one. " 

"Feb. 19, 1856. The ship Mary Green from Liverpool 
has been lost with (just) twenty separate works on alchemy 
which I ordered from London some months ago. I am ex- 
tremely sorry to lose these works, though I can do without 
them, and almost think I could bear the loss of all of my 
alchemical works, having appropriated all that I shall ever 
learn from them. True alchemy, like geometry, is indepen- 
dent of the books that teach it. They are aids, not ends. 

** St. Louis, Feb. 22. The anniversary of the birth of the 
great and good Washington, whose name I often think of 
in connection with that of Archytas, the ancient Pythagorean 
law-giver. Can it be that our mad people are tending to a 
disruption of the Union of these States? The first actual 
step would be a step towards desperate civil war, with con- 
sequences not to be thought of without horror! 

" . . . I do not consider Cousin a philosopher, though 
he actually claims the title, which is more than Plato did. 
He seems to me a laborious superficialist, respectable only 
in that he seems to wish well to man and would elevate his 
tastes if he could. His constant rattle of words about art, 
taste, genius, philosophy, etc., is little less than noise to me, 
and I turn from him to Spinoza with the greatest relish, 
such as a man may feel in passing from cloudy, foggy weather 
into the clear warm sun. ... To me Spinoza's cheerful- 
ness and unaffected placidity is worth more than all the 
stormy whirlpools of passion of all the Byrons the world ever 

The next number of the diary extends to June, 1856, 

Retirement to Private Life 423 

and occupies 256 compactly written pages, consisting mostly 
of metaphysical argument and philosophical soliloquy. Consi- 
derations of worldly things, and speculations as to losses and 
gains, seem to have been renoimced when he doffed his epaulets 
and laid down his sword. He now thinks that there are many 
other things more important, and that they are largely occult. 

"St. Louis, March 16, 1856. It is impossible to know any- 
thing about the absolute origin or end of things. We may 
say that God is the origin, but this is only giving a name 
to our ignorance. It does not remove the mystery; and it 
is not I who am atheistical in this confession of my ignorance, 
but this charge lies rather at the door of those who suppose 
they have removed the veil, either by reason or revelation. 
... I have just re-read that beautiful, most beautiful com- 
mentary of Hierocles on the Golden Verses of Pythagoras. 

"March 28. Have received a letter from my book-buyer 
saying that he has obtained for me some 80 volumes on Al- 
chemy, Hermetic philosophy, etc., ordered some weeks since 
on a London catalogue." 

In this book the diarist marks out to his own satisfaction 
something like a demonstration of his moral conclusions, 
using for his visible symbols the triangle, the circle, and the 
cone, with the resulting ellipse, parabola and hyperbola. 
These last three figures, he says, make a very good symbol 
for the hermetic trinity. He does not at all embrace the 
complicated and abstruse doctrines of the esoterics of the 
Middle Ages, but he uses those theories as tools to work with 
in his search for truth. He comes to the conclusion that 
Existence is the first thing of which the mind can be certain; 
and that God and Nature are equally governed by law, and 
that the law, like the rules of mathematics by which twice 
two are always four and a triangle always has three corners, 
never had a creator or a beginning. 

"St. Louis, April 7. It is surprising how few people ever 
inquire into the important questions of God, the soul, etc., 
and not only do they make no inquiries themselves, but they 
do not allow others to inquire. This finally subjects them to 
the dictation of some fellow-traveller in time (and eternity) 
who, for the simple reason of being a preacher about God, 
is supposed to know something of him. I think the chances 

42 4 Fifty Years in Camp and Field 

are that preachers know even less of the nature of Gkxi than 
many others." 

Before reading the next quotation the reader is requested 
to remember that this reference of all things to " Evolution" 
was before that word had been used to explain the imi- 
verse except in the most restricted sense, and two years be- 
fore Darwin's remarkable work on The Origin of Species was 

"Nature is not, properly speaking, a creation (from no- 
thing) , but rather an evolution of something uncreated. This 
something uncreated is what people call God, and imagine 
vainly about it. The only true recourse is to the thing itself 
— Nature. This is not a consummation of knowledge, but a 
true beginning." 

The next volume of this continuous diary extends from 
June, 1856, to March, 1858, and contains 240 pages — mostly in 
ink, for the writer has now a table and perhaps a stationary 
desk in place of the saddle or barrel-head which he frequently 
used during active service in the field. He resumes the prob- 
lem of life, ever old and ever new, and discusses the Whence, 
Why, and Whither; the philosopher's stone of the alchemists, 
the real meaning of the elixir of life, the Radix Mundi of 
Roger Bacon, the secrets of Zosimus and Hermes Trismegis- 
tus, the arts of Raymond Lully and Augustus of Saxony, 
the mysterious necromancy of Paracelsus, the red tincture 
and the major and minor magisterium, the esoteric readings 
of Dante, the mysticism of Jacob Behmen and the nexus 
of Swendenborg, and the substance, essence, and existence of 

During this year he adds antique writings largely to his 
library and lives with his books. Many of the additions 
have strange and grotesque titles: Jehoir, or the Morning 
Light of Wisdom; The Philosophical Epitaph of W. C. Esquire^ 
for a Memento Mori on the Philosopher's (Tomb) Stone; The 
Idiot in Four Books, the ist and 2nd of Wisdom , the jrd of 
the Minde, the 4th of Staticke Experiments of the Balance. 

The diarist reads Glanville's Defence of Miracles, and 
criticises it: 

"Who talks nowadays of Aaron's rod being turned into 
a serpent or of the witch of Endor or the story of Jonah except 

Retirement to Private Life 425 

as allegories? The fact is that Mr. Glanville does not dis- 
tinguish between an occurrence and the explanation of it — 
between our knowledge that a thing happened and our want 
of knowledge as to how it happened. We do not understand 
the how of the simplest thing in nature, and therefore he 
woidd have us believe anything, however opposed to reason 
and observation. We do not know how grass grows, but 
we do know that it grows. Now we do not know that Aaron's 
rod turned into a serpent; and until we know this we may be 
excused from puzzling ourselves as to the How." 

On Oct. 18, 1856, Captain Sherman writes him from San 
Francisco: "The Black Republicans and the Vigilance Com- 
mittee have united and will carry the city. . . . Even if 
Fremont should be elected, I hold it to be the duty of every 
good citizen to abide his administration. I hope our form 
of government is strong enough to stand anything." Again 
the diary: 

' * There never was a time when there was nothing. Things 
are not created, but generated, and all things are subject 
to change but incapable of annihilation. To say that Nature 
needs a creator to bring it into existence, on the ground that 
nothing can exist but from some cause or power adequate to 
bring it into existence, is pure nonsense, when God is defined 
in the next breath as a self-existent, uncreated Being. 

"If God is both infinitely good and infinitely powerful 
and is also the author of all things, how can anything bad 

During the winter of 1856-7 General Hitchcock writes a 
volume of 300 pages entitled Remarks upon Alchemy and 
the Alchemists, Indicating a Method of Discovering the True 
Nature of Hermetic Philosophy; and Showing that the Search 
after the Philosopher's Stone had not for its Object the Discovery 
of an Agent for the Transmutation of Metals. Being also 
an Attempt to Rescue from undeserved Opprobrium the Repu- 
tation of a class of Extraordinary Thinkers in Past Ages. 

In this book, published in Boston, the author sets forth 
the reasons for his contention that the alchemists were neither 
frauds nor dupes but that they spoke in symbolic language, 
and that the real subject of all their desires and efforts was 
not any philosopher's stone or any transmutation of base 

426 Fifty Years in Camp and Field 

metals into gold, but was distinctly the human race and 
its improvement. The one desirable thing was wisdom, — 
that self-knowledge from which flows the uprightness of life 
which is salvation. 

These three years seem to have been assigned to study 
and writing, for very little appears in the diary concerning 
either public or private matters. His voluminous spec\ilations 
assumed definite proportions and relations and appeared in 
the form of books. He next published Swedenhorg a Hermetic 

"St. Louis, Mo., March 19, i860. I have brought with 
me to-day from the binder a first copy of a work I have ven- 
tured to publish with the title of Christ the Spirit (375 pages, 
i2mo). In this work I have freely expressed my opinion 
of the gospels. I believe the view I take is essentially the 
same as that of St. Paul, who said, 'The letter killeth; the 
spirit giveth life.' This, I say, is the doctrine of Christ as 
expressed in John vi, 63, *It is the spirit that quickenethj 
the flesh [letter] profiteth nothing. ' I do verily believe that 
in this volume I have stated more truth in exposition of the 
scriptures than has appeared in a written form for centuries. 
I am perfectly willing to die upon this book; whether I 
should be willing to die for it, is another question. I have 
long thought that Galileo was wise in not allowing the Inquisi- 
tion to commit the enormous crime of burning him at the 
stake for saying *The world moves. ' " 

The diarist had long been in the habit of examining all 
sorts of subjective phenomena and he now gives a few weeks 
to spiritualism — ^to the delphic utterances of its lecturers and 
the strange experiences of its meditmis. He talks with many 
and even seeks them out for the purpose of investigation, 
but he seems never to get any further in his conclusions 
than to be convinced that those whom he saw were honest 
and sincere and informed and assisted in some peculiar way, 
''like the Illuminati." 

It was about this time that, in the literary society of St. 
Louis, he met a young man who was to become one of his 
most intimate associates : 

"May 4, i860. Called to-day on Mr. William T. Harris. 
I have talked with him several times in my own library, but 

Student and Author 427 

to-day I saw him in his — a, remarkable man. He has charge 
of one of the pubUc academies of the city. He is thoroughly 
imbued with what Socrates would imdoubtedly have been 
delighted with — ^the philosophic spirit, a true love of philoso- 
phy. He is a yoimg man, but looks at principles without 
disregarding facts. He is more in love with Hegel than would 
be altogether to my taste, but he will outgrow this as his 
own mind reveals itself to itself.'* 

This notes the beginning of an acquaintance which ripened 
into a warm and enduring friendship. General Hitchcock 
was more than sixty, and his new friend was but twenty-four; 
but the latter revealed such broadmindedness and such schol- 
arly tastes and habits that the elder philosopher cordially 
drew him to his side as the successor to the genial Bliss and 
Larnard of former days. 

During the next turbulent years, in the midst of alarm, 
grief, and carnage, they kept up a continuous and voluminous 
correspondence, General Hitchcock occasionally writing him 
a letter of twenty compact pages upon those metaphysical 
researches which equally occupied the minds of both. Once, 
while pondering some abstruse problem, he exclaimed to 
himself, ** I need Harris more than anybody else." 




IT is the autumn of i860. The election is over; Lincoki is 
to be President; much excitement prevails; distmion is 
threatened. "Considerable apprehension," writes the 
diarist on Nov. 26, i860; and on Feb. 3d he adds: "I have 
been a greatly distressed observer of this movement, though I 
have made little note of it. The cotton States have passed 
'ordinances of secession.' Our hopes now rest upon the 
Northern line of slave States. If they remain in the Union, 
and no blood be shed, there is a slight hope that something 
may be done to heal the breach.** On Jan. 30, 186 1, General 
Hitchcock writes to General Scott from St. Louis warning 
him of the danger of an attack on the arsenal. 

In the St. Louis Republican of Feb. 3, 186 1, is a column 
letter from General Hitchcock full of earnest but temperate 
pleas for the Union. He says: "We seem to be making 
rapid strides towards civil war, the most deplorable of all 
wars, and if it is begun in this country the generation in which 
it begins may not see the end of it, but will witness an end to 
the prosperity of the country — its glory and its happiness.'* 
He proceeds to add that slavery exists without anybody's 
fault; that the States where it exists should be left entirely 
free to deal with it ; that the mere existence of slavery is not 
a sin, for control over the slave can alone save him from de- 
struction; that "erroneous opinions on this subject in the 
North have driven the South into a revolution "5 that South 


Hitchcock Pleads against Disunion 429 

Carolina is wrong and unreasonable; that '*a rebellion on a 
limited scale in any section of the country ought to be put 
down by the power of the government, but when it extends 
over a large portion of the coimtry, solemnly acting through 
its local authorities, representing certain reserved rights, it 
becomes another question, and I say God forbid that the 
government of the United States should attempt the use of 
force in this case." He then calls attention to the fact that 
Missouri is a wedge thrust up into the free States and that 
it can escape destruction only by standing by the Union; 
and he closes by saying: "If we of this age would make one 
tenth of the sacrifices, and these only of pride of opinion, to 
preserve this government, which our sires and grandsires 
made to establish it, the historian might yet brush away 
the tear that stands ready to blur this paper." 

The next day he publishes another column letter to the 
people, in which appeared the following vigorous argument : 

"No State has a right to secede from the Union. The Union 
is a compact by which the whole of the States, through the General 
Government, are bound to defend each State from foreign invasion. 

"A few years ago, a colored man was taken from an English 
vessel in Charleston Harbor by the authorities of that State, and 
confined until the vessel was ready to sail. This was an aggression 
upon England, and was so regarded by the English papers. Sup- 
pose the English Government had, at that time, sent a war ves- 
sel into Charleston Harbor to demand satisfaction? Would the 
Government of the United States have had any right to secede 
from South Carolina and leave her to fight her own battles? H 
the demand of South Carolina for protection, under such circum- 
stances, was a right on her part — which no one can deny— then the 
government could have no right to disown the obligation. But 
obligations are always mutual, and South Carolina must be con- 
sidered as much bound to the Union as the Union is bound to 

A week later he published another vigorous but kindly 
remonstrance against secession, adding that he would ap- 
prove *' of anything that the North and South can agree upon 
to save the Union, and would agree, except out of curiosity, 
never to ask any questions about it, so much before all other 
considerations do I value the Union of all the States.*' 

430 Fifty Years in Camp and Field 

** St. Louis, April 13, 1861. News comes that Fort Sumter 
in Charleston Harbor was under fire all day yesterday from 
the batteries established around it by the forces of the seceded 
Confederate States. The seceders summoned Major Anderson 
to surrender, and, upon his declining to do so, they com- 
menced the fire. They have now immistakably begun the 
civil war which must signalize the death of the grandest 
republic the world has ever seen. And I have lived to see 
this blow! 

" St. Louis, May 6, 186 1. I am packing up for New York, 
my object being to get out of the secession fever which now 
agitates this city and State. There are 27 boxes of books. 

** Many friends urge my return to the army.^ But I have 
no heart for engaging in a civil war. I cannot think of it. 
If fighting could preserve the Union (or restore it) I might 
consider what I could do to take part — but when did fighting 
make friends ? To my vision — and I note it with a feeling 
^oi dread — ^the great American Republic is broken up. What 
is to come out of it can hardly be imagined just now. " 

On May loth war began in Missouri. Lyon, commanding 
the U. S. arsenal, surrounded and captured a regiment of 
militia, whose friends afterwards fired upon his troops and 
in the return fire several were killed. At this General Hitch- 
cock delayed his departure, to witness and, if possible, to as- 
sist the return of tranquillity. 

" After the affair of the loth there was a dreadful state of 
excitement. Next day, as I was passing through the city on 
a street car, a gentleman saw me and, jumping in, said he 
was on the way out to see me, as General Harney had sent 
him and expressed a wish to advise with me. Harney had 
asked the gentleman, who knew of our cold relations and 
that there had been only ceremonious intercourse between 
us for years, whether he thought I would consent to see him ! 
I said/ Certainly ; if General Harney wishes to see me on public 
business, I will go.' So we met and the public excitement 
was immediately the topic. Being appealed to as to what 

» On April 20, Governor Pomeroy wrote to him and said that Vermont 
desired to place her troops under the command of "the grandson of Ethan 
Allen. " 111 health prevented his acceptance of the commission. 

** No State Has a Right to Secede *' 431 

should be done, I advised General Harney to announce his 
arrival from the East in a proclamation to the people, with 
suitable expressions, etc. The General approved the plan; 
Judge Krum, who was present, wrote the proclamation, and 
it was received with great satisfaction. Next day we met 
again, and the General suggested addressing a letter to the 
people of the State. It was agreed to and the Judge and 
I wrote it — mostly mine. This letter had a good effect. 

"A day or two later Sterling Price, who had been made 
Major-General of the State militia, was sent for at my sug- 
gestion, and he and Harney agreed upon the terms of peace 
and reduced their agreement to writing and signed it. (I 
wrote the paper.) 

*' For the present no signs of distrust have appeared, and 
peace may continue if the parties to it maintain fidelity. 
What is to come out of this, no one can tell. My own opinion 
is that if the Federal army in the East meets with success we 
shall hear no more of secession in Missouri (beyond a little 
jostling, here and there) ; but if the Federal forces meet with 
reverses the secession feeling will rise in Missouri and serious 
results may follow. 

** Green Bay, June 10. Left St. Louis finally on May 28th. 
Hear that General Harney was relieved from the command 
at St. Louis on the 30th, by an order bearing date the i6th!! 
The papers express astonishment at the date. My theory 
about the matter is that the Secretary of War distrusted Gen- 
eral Harney and sent the order subject to the control of a 
political junto at St. Louis — probably of Black Republicans ! ! ! 

"Saratoga Springs, N. Y., July 6. . . . The President 
asks for unlimited men and money to put down the great 
Rebellion in the South. It may be done if the war is under- 
stood to be against the rebellious party as a party, and not 
against the South as a people. If its effect should be to 
divide the North on questions connected with it, — ^then, 
farewell to the Republic! 

** New York, July 22. . . . The defeat at Bull Run yester- 
day was to be expected. The probability of it was so great 
that I have recently given the most positive opinion that 
General Scott would not order an attack at that point. I saw 

432 Fifty Years in Camp and Field 

no necessity for it. The proper course was to order McClellan's 
force to join Patterson's, then drive Johnston and thus threaten 
Richmond from a point west of Manassas, and compel the 
rebels to leave that position to secure their capital. * Rebels ? ' 
Are they so if they can defeat the Northern army? or if 
this event should be followed by a recognition of their govern- 
ment by England and France? The prospect is very much 
darkened by this mishap.. The secession feeling will rise 
in Maryland and Missouri, where hitherto it has been kept 

" Concord, Mass., Aug. 13. I have taken a rim out here 
to see Mr. Emerson, the * Mystic,* — ^author of the Essay on 
Circles. I come to ask him to urge Carlyle to complete the 
translation of Wilhelm Meister's Travels.'* 

The newspapers of the North began, shortly after the Bull 
Rim disaster, to suggest, and some of them to demand, that 
General Hitchcock be recalled into the service. General 
Scott had nominated him to President Lincoln as **the ablest 
military officer out of service.'* Colonel Townsend, of the 
Adjutant-General's office, had sent word to General Hitchcock 
that General Scott had named him "the first to be recalled 
to service, " but that a member of the Cabinet ^ had objected. 

The Boston Courier had an editorial supporting Scott's 
suggestion that General Hitchcock be recalled and added: 

"This gallant and distinguished officer was felt worthy of ex- 
traordinary confidence by the government, while in the service, 
for his marked integrity of character as well as for remarkable mil- 
itary accomplishments and acquisitions. On the latter account 
we have understood that he was sometimes called the * Csesar of 
the army.' " 

The New York Evening Post followed with a highly com- 
plimentary editorial in which it alluded to him as "one of 
the very best officers the army of the United States ever had, " 
and added: " His thorough knowledge of the art of war and 

» The Boston Traveler's Washington correspondent said at this time: 
" Earnest efforts have been made to induce Mr. Lincoln to accept the services 
of Gen. E. A. Hitchcock, formerly an officer of the army, of great distinction, 
efficiency, and merit. Unfortunately for the country, there is a man in 
power here who was once exposed by Hitchcock, then a major, in an attempt 
to speculate upon the credulity of the Winnebago Indians. " 

Demand for Hitchcock's Recall to the Army 433 

his long experience in equipping and disciplining troops make 
him one of the most desirable acquisitions which the service 
could receive. " 

For the assertion that he had been called "the Caesar of 
the army" on account of his military skill and his learning, 
he enters a disclaimer in his diary : 

*'I never claimed to be a Csesar or heard that any one 
ever placed my name so high. . . . As to going into the army, 
I have no particular wish for it. In the first place, I am 
past 63, and, though my general health is good, I keep it so 
by a regularity of liviug which campaign life would hardly 
permit me to keep up. Men of my age may well be employed 
in coimcil, but not in field. An active soldier, conducting 
troops, ought rarely to be over 40 years of age. Another 
point is, I have no heart in this horrible war, and hardly 
think I shall have until it becomes aggressive on the part 
of the South. I deny the right of the South to secede and 
break up the Union, but, the step having been taken, I do 
not see how the nation is to be reinstated as it was before. 

"The republic, as such, must from this time change its 
character whatever the result of the conflict, and I do not 
perceive a prospective value in it, if it must call me,, an elderly 
if not an old man, from the retirement of private life, to which 
I voluntarily withdrew several years ago, and in which I 
have become interested in a course of study of more impor- 
tance to me personally than any external government can 
be. . . . If a yoimger man, I might feel it a duty, in the 
present state of the country, to take part in public events." 

General Scott's desire to have his old Inspector-General 
once more at the front was so strong that he induced Mr. 
Lincoln to lay the subject before the Cabinet. 

"Oct. 4- The public still takes liberties with my name. 
I have not authorized its use in the public prints in any way 
and have no wish to appear before the public. " 

The New York Express said of him : 

"It is well known that this high-minded and valiant officer 

once refused to lend himself to a low intrigue in the way of some 

official contracts, and that he has long been frowned upon by an 

officer of high position in the War Department. If this is the 

434 Fifty Years in Camp and Field 

cause of the present obscurity of this tried soldier and most brave 
and accomplished officer, the country should know it and the 
outrage be resented. Disgraceful, indeed, is it that an accom- 
.plished officer in this trying hour should be the victim of official 
prejudice and ignorance, when his services are so imperatively 
needed. Especially outrageous that an official wrong should be 
inflicted on a direct descendant of Ethan Allen. " 

**Feb. 2, 1862. General Halleck told me this morning 
that he had received a letter from General McClellan and 
that I would 'certainly' be appointed a major-general of 
volunteers. This news does not please me. Not that I 
am unwilling to serve my coimtry in her hour of trial, but 
that I am unaffectedly of opinion that younger men can 
render more efficient service. To keep my health reasonably 
good I need to live a less exposed life than a soldier's. My 
impression now is that I shall decline the appointment if 
it is offered to me. It is a kind of patriotism to do so, for I 
cannot hope to render a service to the public commensurate 
with the pay and expenses my appointment might impose 
upon the government." 

On February 5 th General Hitchcock was informed by 
General Scott that a commission as major-general was ready 
for him (it was issued on the loth) and he was told that he 
would be sent to supersede General Grant operating against 
Forts Henry and Bonelson in Tennessee. He at once pro- 
tested against being put over the head of Grant, who was 
obviously "doing all he can." 

"St. Louis, Feb. 20, 1862. Have been appointed major- 
general of volimteers, and the appointment has been iman- 
imously confirmed by the Senate. And before it reaches me 
I have written to the Secretary of War declining it. My 
health will not allow me to accept it, if there were no other 
reason. I preserve the appearance of good health only by 
the strictest care, simplicity of diet, and regularity of habits. 
To this I am told that my counsel and experience are needed, 
not service in the field. 

"My friends urge me to make the trial: that I can with- 
draw if the service is too severe. To this I answer that it is 
easy to stay out, but difficult to withdraw when once in. 

Ill Health Prevents Acceptance 435 

Suppose I take my place in the service now while the waters 
are smooth; I get along very well. Presently the sea becomes 
turbulent — how could I then withdraw without dishonor? 
Suppose I take service in the midst of these successes, having 
had no part in any of them. Now, all going well, I may 
remain in private life, and may justly plead that I am not 
robust enough for field service. This is at least honest and 
fair — fair to the noble fellows who have won the late victories 
as brigadier-generals while I am offered a major-general's com- 
mission and have had no part or lot, even in the prepara- 
tion of troops by whose efforts the Union arms have been 

* ' I suppose the alacrity of the executive in giving me this 
appointment is a testimonial. It was just to offer me the 
commission, and is just for me to decline it. " 

Every mail brought to him clamorous letters from friends 
and others giving reasons why he ought to accept the com- 
mission — a principal plea being that a declination of it would 
be misunderstood and would give the secessionists much joy. 
To such he pleaded advanced age and long withdrawal from 
active military life, and added : 

"An individual in an obscure position may give his life, 
indeed, to the public cause; but he hazards no more. He 
scarcely at all brings the cause itself into danger. This can- 
not be said of a commander ; and I hold it a crime in any one 
to seek, and it may be even to accept, a position involving 
vast interests without a realizing sense of ability and suitable 
preparation for it. 

"I know the terrible responsibility," he said to himself 
in his diary; ''what if I should suffer physical collapse while 
at the head of an army?" 

Among the hundreds of urgent letters which he received 
at this time were several from Gen. Joseph Holt, Mr. Buchan- 
an's last Secretary of War and afterwards Mr. Lincoln's Judge 
Advocate-General, who said: 

"I beg you to accept the high office in the military service 
of the republic which has just been tendered to you. You have 
neither sought nor desired this position, but the country, remem- 
bering your past devotion to the honor of our flag, has sought you 

43 6 Fifty Years in Camp and Field 

in your retirement and appeals to you for support as a stricken 
mother appeals to the manhood of her sons. Obedience to the 
call which has been made upon you may, at your age, involve 
you in much personal discomfort; but sorrow is now upon the 
hearts and hearthstones of all, and we can neither hope for nor 
desire personal ease while our country, humbled and distracted, 
is bleeding every hour under the stabs of traitors. When the 
Spartan mother was told that her son had fallen upon the battle- 
field in defence of his country, she sublimely answered, 'To this 
end I brought him into the world.* You have a name which is 
the very synonym of the chivalry of the Revolution, and I will 
not sadden myself with the thought that the history of this fear- 
ful life struggle of our country is to be written without that name, 
so illustrious in the past, appearing upon its pages." 



BUT there were other reasons besides his physical condi- 
tion why he shrank from taking upon himself at 
sixty-four the responsibilities of a leader of soldiers 
in the field. Whatever he had been at thirty, a lifetime of 
meditation, study, and self-communing had made his tastes 
those of a scholar rather than a warrior. While now waiting 
between telegrams from Washington, he records: "I have 
been a student all my life, even when I was a soldier by an 
education involuntarily received. I did not go to the Military 
Academy because I deliberately made choice of a military 
profession. I went because, being a grandson of Ethan Allen, 
some of the friends of our family thought it appropriate. 
If service can repay such an education, I served forty years. 
Is not that long enough?*' 

"Washington, March 15. On the 7th I received a tele- 
graph despatch from the Secretary of War, saying that he 
would like a * personal conference' with me, if my health 
would permit me to come to Washington 'immediately.* 
I jumped into the next departing train, had a serious and 
violent hemorrhage at Pittsburg, arrived here on Monday 
the loth, and, weak and covered with dust as I was, went 
directly to the War Department (at 11 a.m.). Secretary 
Stanton was with the President, and the Assistant Secretary 
said he would mention my arrival and send me word. I 
returned to my hotel, and there was seized with a profuse 


43^ Fifty Years in Camp and Field 

bleeding at the nose — the sixth or seventh time in three weeks. 
Two physicians finally stopped the bleeding by mechanical 
means and I was sent to bed, very much exhausted. 

"After an hour or so an a. d. c. came with the Secretary's 
compliments and a carriage. I could not go, and in the 
evening the Secretary himself came to see me. He was very 
kind ; asked me to allow myself to be taken to his house, etc. 
He had wished to see me, he said, but would not talk with 
me exhausted as he saw I was, but would call in the morning. 

"In the morning he called, finding me in bed. He told 
me that he wanted me in the service. I replied that I was 
not fit for service, and appealed to his own eyes. He re- 
marked, 'You must leave that to us, ' and went on to say that 
he and President Lincoln wanted the benefit of my experi- 
ence — ^that they wanted me here, close by, where they could 
have the opportunity of consulting me. They did 'not 
wish me in the field, but in Washington'; they 'would put 
no more upon me than I could bear,* and a multitude of 
other assurances of the kind. He even offered to remove 
the Adjutant-General and put me at the head of the staff. 

"I turned these compliments all aside, with thanks, and 
said that I must go to New York to consult physicians — 
that if there was a return of the hemorrhage I wished to be 
with my friends, and shotdd be, at all events, unfit for 

"He left me and returned to the White House, and there 
wrote me a note in which he suggested that any legislation 
I might desire could be had, if I would but mention it. I re- 
plied that special legislation begot jealousies, and that if my 
experience was deemed of value it could be had by my simply 
remaining within call. 

"I got up and started at ii a.m. for New York. 

"At New York I finally determined to say by note to 
the Secretary that if, with his knowledge of my broken health, 
I could be useful in the way he had pointed out, he might 
annoimce my acceptance of the commission if not now too 
late, and order me to report to him. That was done and I 
reached here this morning — ^March 15 [1862]. On reporting 
to the Secretary, almost without a word of preface he asked 
me if I would take McClellan's place in command of the army 

Summoned to Washington by Stanton 439 

of the Potomac!^ I was amazed, and told him at once that 
I could not. He spoke of the pressure on the President, and 
said that he and the President had had the greatest difficulty 
in standing out against the demand that McClellan be removed. 

** He then asked me if I would allow him to put me at the 
head of the Ordnance Department, and remove General R. 
This surprised me almost as much as the other offer, and was 
entirely unlike anything I had anticipated, and I declined. 

" He then took me to President Lincoln and introduced 
me. I was civilly received. Secretary Seward was present 
and some despatches were read — ^reports from the army, etc. 

"The President took a letter out of his pocket and read 
it as a sample, he said, of what he was exposed to. It was 
anonymous, marked ' urgent, ' and called on him to ' remove 
the traitor McClellan* — using the most extravagant language 
of condemnation. Judge Blair, Postmaster-General, came in 
and asked for a brigadier-general's commission for a relation 
of his wife. 

"I offered to go, but Mr. Lincoln detained me till the 
others went. He then expressed the wish to have the benefit 
of my experience: said he was the depository of the power 
of the government and had no military knowledge. I knew 
his time was important and shortly left him. 

**Now — what is to come of this? I want no command. 
I want no department. I came to be at hand for * contingent 
service,* and must adhere to my purpose. General Scott, 
whom I saw in New York, told me I could be very useful here. 
He even said that I ought to be in command of the army, 
but that that was now impossible. 

" I urged the Secretary to extend General Halleck's com- 
mand over the whole valley of the Mississippi, and this has 
been done at once, putting Buell under his orders. 

*' On the whole, I am uncomfortable. I am almost afraid 
that Secretary Stanton hardly knows what he wants, himself. 2 

"Washington, Monday evening, March 17, 1862. A toler- 

> The tardy engineer, McClellan, had now marched upon Manassas. 

2 During this week, an army board, of which General Hitchcock was 
President, decided that the safety of Washington required the retention in its 
front of one corps of the army. The President thereupon kept McDowell's 
corps between the city and Richmond. 

440 Fifty Years in Camp and Field 

ably quiet day, closing with the most tremendously threat- 
ening cloud I have ever had come near to me. 

'* How shall I describe it? 

"First of all, this morning, in an interview with the Sec- 
retary of War, I declined his offers of a high station (tw^o or 
three of them) and finally asked him if he would allow me to 
be placed under his own orders as a staff officer, to render 
such service as I might be capable of . 

" He asked me to write the order myself and he would 
sign it. I wrote a simple order and he signed it and handed 
it to the Adjutant-General, with directions to distribute 

"He then asked me to take a seat in his private council 
room, where I remained most of the day. Towards evening 
he came in, and, shutting the door behind him, stated to 
me the most astoimding facts, all going to show the aston- 
ishing incompetency of General McClellan. I can not recite 
them: but the Secretary stated fact after fact, until I felt 
positively sick — ^that falling of the heart which excludes 

" I do not wonder, now, that the Secretary offered even 
me the command of this Army of the Potomac, which, he 
says, is 230,000 strong. If mentally capable, I am physically 
imable, to enter upon such responsibility. 

"The Secretary is immensely distressed and with reason: 
he is dreadfully apprehensive of a great disaster, which, also, 
is not improbable. What can I do in this case ? 

"When the evening had set in we separated, the Secre- 
tary asking me to be at the office early. But to what purpose ? 
I cannot now, on a sudden, improvise a campaign, having 
had nothing to do with the army now in the field. Truly, 
I am heart-sick. 

"Washington, Mch. 23, Sunday. My intercourse becomes 
confidential, without design on either side, apparently. I have 
corroborated his opinions of certain persons without aiming 
to do so and before I knew what he thought. I wrote to 
him from Baltimore (on my way to N. Y.) that I would not 
be in haste to assign Fremont to a command, urging, as a 
reason, that he is the willing idol of a party whose design is 
to pervert the constitutional power of the government to 

Incompetence of McClellan 441 

revolutionary purposes. It happened to be his own opinion, 
I found, on returning. 

"To-day the Secretary asked me very abruptly what I 
thought of the Blairs.i I told him and foimd that my esti- 
mate agreed with his. " 

On April 2d, at the request of the Secretary, General Hitch- 
cock drew up complete regulations for the government of 
officers in charge of prisoners of war, which were enforced 
to govern the actions of the Union army throughout the 

"Washington, April 22, 1862. On the 13th I went down 
to McClellan's camp on the Peninsula, before Yorktown, 
and remained there one day. I had a full conversation with 
him in which he explained his contemplated plan for taking 
Yorktown. From Fortress Monroe I went on board the 
little Monitor that disabled and beat off the Merrimac, visited 
Goldsboro's flagship, etc." 

When he returned to Washington he reported to the Presi- 
dent and Secretary Stanton, but does not record any result 
or even conversation on the subject. It having been reported 
at this time that Secretary Stanton was soon to vacate his 
place, General Hitchcock was urged for Secretary of War by 
newspapers in different Northern cities, the Boston Courier 
following his nomination with, "There is not in our army a 
more accomplished officer — eminently national in his feelings, 
a powerful writer, and a gentleman of large experience, of 
vigorous mind, and of great executive ability.** Then came 
more trouble for Secretary Stanton, and the account of it is 
carefully written in ink: 

** Washington, April 29, *62. Yesterday I handed in the 
resignation of my commission of Major-General of volun- 
teers. Thus : 

**0n Saturday, the 26th, the Secretary became for the 
first time a little impatient towards me. I had often seen 
him in such a mood towards others — ^towards General Ripley 
and General Thomas, and once even towards General Meigs, 
and at one time he spoke very abruptly to General Totten — 

» In his diary General Hitchcock writes, " President Lincoln tells me that 
the Secretary and General Blair are not on speaking terms. " 

442 Fifty Years in Camp and Field 

all members of the Army Board. I had resolved that I 
would not permit it towards myself. 

*'0n Saturday he suddenly seemed to think that he had 
no one around him to give him opinions on military subjects, 
and at length he exclaimed: 'It is very extraordinary that 
I can find no military man to give opinions. You give me 
no opinions!' he added. The particular subject he had been 
speaking of was the position of General Banks. Now I had 
given him a very definite opinion on that very point two or 
three days before, and, without giving way to the least excite- 
ment, I asked him to look at the map, and pointed out what 
I thought and what I had said. I then briefly adverted to 
several opinions which I had given from time to time since 
I came here. 

** After the conversation ceased, and the Secretary went 
to another room, I wrote a letter of resignation, designing 
to hand it in the next morning. As that was Sunday I de- 
ferred it to yesterday morning. He no sooner received it 
from the Adjutant-General, who told him it was because of 
something he had said on Saturday, than he came to the 
Adjutant-General's room, where I had remained, and we had 
a scene of it. He declared in the most emphatic manner that 
he had no intention of wounding my feelings: that he knew 
he had faults of temper, etc. ; that he was oppressed with a 
sense of his responsibilities, to which he knew he was not 
equal, etc. 

**The first thing he said, however, was, * You don't wish 
to ruin me?' 'Certainly not,' I said. *If you send in that 
paper,' said he, 'you will destroy me!'" 

The Secretary cried out in exclamations of self-reproach 
and lamentation and besought the General in humiliating 
terms not to proceed to such extremities. This appeal he 
repeated several times with visible emotion. 

"I tried my best to stop him, assuring him that I had no 
intention of doing him any injury; that I could not see how 
my going away could affect him; that if he thought it would, 
I would destroy the paper. In the end, we went up to his 
room together, and I put the paper in the fire before his face. 
An hour or two afterwards he became more calm, and I took 
occasion to tell him many things which I hope will serve him. 

Remarkable Interview with Stanton 443 

His idea that my resignation would destroy him was not from 
the loss of my supposed services, but because he knows his 
reputation for acting on impulse and he knows that my with- 
drawal would be construed to his disadvantage." 

During the next few weeks, General Hitchcock's physical 
afflictions returned upon him, and almost disabled him. He 
served as the military adviser and assistant of President 
Lincoln and Secretary Stanton whenever he could go to the 

"New York, May 21, 1862. Again sent in my resignation 
as Major-General on the 15th inst. I could not persuade 
the Secretary to accept it, and could not require it against 
his wishes. He told me to take a leave of absence, recruit 
my strength, and return when I felt sufficiently recovered. 
I told him (the truth) that I am positively ashamed to be in 
receipt of the pay and emoluments of a major-general and 
render no adequate service on account of disability. He 
proposed some nominal duty, as an inspecting duty to look 
into the condition of prisoners of war, but declined to make 
an order. 

"New York, May 21. By this time I have discovered 
that the whole country has begim to look upon me as the 
'Military Adviser' of the Secretary of War. This is very 
distasteful to me because it seems to make me responsible 
for those very movements which I have disapproved. In 
reply to requests by Secretary Stanton and Mr. Lincoln I 
made several important recommendations to both, which 
were ignored and disaster followed. Finally, when some 
troops were ordered out of the Shenandoah Valley against 
my urgent advice, and Stonewall Jackson made a successful 
raid on Banks and swept the Valley, I insisted upon resigning 
rather than, any longer, be put in a false position. Neither 
the Secretary nor the President would accept my resigna- 
tion although offered thrice." 

On May 28th, General Hitchcock wrote an elaborate letter 
to General Scott explaining his relation to affairs and pro- 
testing that he was made to bear responsibility for movements 
which he had expressly condemned in advance. He and 
General Thomas had been appointed by the President to re- 
port as to the number of men required to defend Washington. 

444 Fifty Years in Camp and Field 

They reported that 25,000 men were needed, whereas only 
10,000 were present in the forts. Thereupon the President 
withheld a part of McDoweirs corps from McClellan's army. 
General Hitchcock's repeated advice, however, that Blen- 
ker's division of Banks's corps should be withheld from Fre- 
mont for the defence of the city was ignored, and two months 
later the disaster occurred which he had predicted. 

"New York, June i, 1862. A few days ago I wrote a 
private note to Secretary Stanton calling his attention to 
my resignation and requesting him to announce its acceptance. 
I told hjm I had made a trial of several days* change of at- 
mosphere as he had suggested, but did not feel strengthened 
to the point of making another experiment in Washington. 
I received a note from him yesterday, in which he refers to 
my ill health in very kind terms, but says that the President 
apprehends that acceptance of my resignation at this time 
might be misunderstood and might even be injurious to 
the public interests. He urges that I take an unlimited 
leave of absence till recovered. 

** The injury apprehended, of course, is a public suspicion 
that I am dissatisfied with the conduct of the war — ^and this 
would be in some degree true. I was dissatisfied with Gene- 
ral McClellan's movement to Yorktown. I repeatedly urged 
the President not to permit the Shenandoah Valley to be 
imcovered. He persisted, however, and Banks was driven 
out of it by Stonewall Jackson and across the Potomac." 

The time from May to November is spent by the inva